'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli summoned to appear for Senate grilling over price-gouging scheme
Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli (CBS/screen grab)

Martin Shkreli, the chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, has been called to answer questions before the U.S. Senate about his price-gouging scheme.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent the former hedge fund manager a letter Wednesday asking him to appear before a special committee on aging to explain why he jacked up the price overnight of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750.

The senators expressed concern that Turing's actions had contributed to the rising cost of health care for all Americans by hundreds of millions of dollars -- particularly the elderly.

“Some of the recent actions we’ve seen in the pharmaceutical industry—with corporate acquisitions followed by dramatic increases in the prices of pre-existing drugs—have looked like little more than price gouging,” McCaskill said.

The committee has asked Shkreli to appear for questioning in an initial hearing scheduled for Dec. 9.

The lawmakers asked Shkreli to provide all Turing documents and communications related to Daraprim -- which is used in parasitic infections that can be life-threatening for babies, the elderly and AIDS patients.

Collins and McCaskill sent similar letters to the heads of three other pharmaceutical companies -- Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin, Inc., and Rodelis Therapeutics.

The committee plans to investigate all of the companies' mergers and acquisitions, in addition to the Food and Drug Administration's role in approving and distributing generic drugs.

Shkreli and the other pharmaceutical chief executives were asked to turn over internal communications, pricing plans, correspondence with the FDA and financial documents.

“We need to get to the bottom of why we’re seeing huge spikes in drug prices that seemingly have no relationship to research and development costs," McCaskill said.