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News Wrap: Embattled pharma CEO takes Fifth before Congress

February 4, 2016 at 6:45 PM EDT
Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, is sworn in to testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on "Developments in the Prescription Drug Market Oversight" on Capitol Hill in Washington February 4, 2016. Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions on Thursday from U.S. lawmakers interested in why the company raised the price of a lifesaving medicine by 5,000 percent.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX25HGY

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Good evening.  I’m Judy Woodruff.

GWEN IFILL:  And I’m Gwen Ifill.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  On the “NewsHour” tonight:  We’re on the ground in New Hampshire, where presidential candidates in both parties face a crucial test next week.

GWEN IFILL:  Also ahead this Thursday, we sit down with the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to discuss a possible peace deal with the FARC rebels, and the new Zika threat.

PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, Colombia:  I am very concerned, because this is, for us, something new.  It is new for the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And all in, the real odds of playing fantasy sports.

JAY CASPIAN KANG, New York Times Magazine:  Some of them are guys who worked on Wall Street and were investment analysts, and a lot of them, I think, are just guys who are of sort of good at sports statistics and that they found a way to turn this into a living.

GWEN IFILL:  All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


JUDY WOODRUFF:  In the day’s other news, the former head of a drug company, Martin Shkreli, took the Fifth today on why he raised the price of a critical drug by 5000 percent.  The one-time boss of Turing Pharmaceuticals appeared at a congressional hearing, but he repeatedly refused to testify.

MARTIN SHKRELI, Former CEO, Turing Pharmaceuticals:  On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment, privilege against self-incrimination, and respectfully decline to answer your question.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Lawmakers on both sides blasted Turing’s decision to raise the price of medicine for a deadly parasitic infection.

But Shkreli appeared to make light of it all, and Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings took him to task.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), Maryland:  The way I see it, you can go down in history as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you can change the system.  Yes, you.  You detailed the knowledge about drug companies and the system we have today.  And I truly believe — are you listening?



I truly believe you could become a force of tremendous good.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The appeal, though, may have fallen on deaf ears.  After he left the hearing, Shkreli’s official Twitter account flashed a message that read: “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people of our country.”

GWEN IFILL:  The latest numbers are in, and 12.7 million people signed up for private health insurance this year under the Affordable Care Act.  That means enrollment is in line with the administration’s projections.  This was the third sign-up season under the president’s health care law.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  On the Zika virus outbreak, Brazilian authorities say they have identified two cases transmitted through blood transfusions.  The virus is most commonly spread through mosquito bites, and is being linked to birth defects.  The outbreak has now spread across much of Latin America.

GWEN IFILL:  In Greece, public transit and services ground to a halt in much of the country today, as thousands of people walked off the job in a general strike.  Farmers, doctors and others joined public workers to protest pension reforms tied to Greece’s third international bailout.

MAN:  This cannot go on.  They must withdraw this monstrous bill right now.  This reform plan is against the workers and the people.  We will continue fighting until victory.

GWEN IFILL:  Demonstrations were largely peaceful, but some anarchist protesters and police exchanged firebombs and tear gas in clashes outside the parliament building in Athens.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Back in this country, word today Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only secretary of state to receive classified information in personal e-mails.  The department’s inspector general has found sensitive data in e-mails sent to former Secretaries Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice or their staffs.  Clinton’s campaign says State has gone — quote — “overboard” on classification.

GWEN IFILL:  There’s another big air bag recall.  Continental Automotive Systems says up to five million vehicles worldwide are affected.  Something less than two million are in the U.S.  Moisture can damage the air bags so they don’t deploy in a crash.  And Honda has recalled another 2.2 million vehicles in North America.  They have Takata air bags that can fire metal shards.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Wall Street managed modest gains today.  The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 80 points to close at 16416.  The Nasdaq rose five, and the S&P 500 added three.

GWEN IFILL:  And the founder and leader of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White, has died.  The band formed in the late 1960s, and sold more than 90 million albums, with hits that included “September,” “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland.”  They joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.  Maurice White was 74 years old.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Colombia’s president on his country’s prospects for peace after 50 years of conflict; billions of dollars pledged to Syria as its peace talks break down; the economic booms and busts of fantasy sports; and much more.