Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate today to support the journalism you rely on!

House Hearing Probes The Mystery Of High Drug Prices That 'Nobody Pays'

Members of Congress at a Thursday hearing wrestled with questions about why the prices of some old drugs are rising so fast.

Much of the session held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was dominated by Martin Shkreli, the bad-boy former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who earned notoriety by raising the price 5,000 percent for the drug Daraprim, a treatment for toxoplasmosis.

Shkreli — who has been indicted on unrelated securities charges and pleaded not guilty — invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions. As the hearing went on, he smirked, rolled his eyes and chuckled. Afterward, he insulted the committee members on Twitter.

Committee member Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted back.

Once Shkreli left Thursday's hearing, lawmakers grilled other witnesses about rising drug prices.

The seemingly simple question about how much Daraprim costs in the real world proved pretty tricky to pin down.

Listen for yourself as Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., asked Turing's Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Retzlaff how much Daraprim costs. The response is enough to make us feel like imbeciles.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak is a health policy correspondent on NPR's Science Desk.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.