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Sept. 28 — All Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Sept. 28 sent a letter to the committee's chairman, urging him to subpoena Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. on its “massive price increases” for two heart drugs.
The two drugs, Isuprel (isoproterenol hydrochloride injection) and Nitropress (sodium nitroprusside injection), are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure and hypertensive episodes.
• total gross revenues from the company's sale of these drugs;
• the dates, quantities, purchasers and prices paid for all sales of these drugs;
• total expenses related to the sales of these drugs, as well as specific amounts for manufacturing, marketing and advertising, and purchases of active pharmaceutical ingredients, if applicable; and
• sales contracts or purchase agreements for active pharmaceutical ingredients for these drugs, including any agreements relating to exclusivity, if applicable.
The Democrats also requested that the chairman hold a hearing next week and invite Valeant's chief executive officer.
The Democrats also want the committee to call Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager whose company recently purchased the life-saving drug Daraprim and increased the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. A specific date for the hearing hasn't been set.
Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli's company, acquired Daraprim (pyrimethamine) from Impax Laboratories Inc. in August. It is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for a life-threatening infection called toxoplasmosis, when used in combination with a sulfonamide and leucovorin.
The letter said that “Valeant is using precisely the same business model as Martin Shkreli,” and “both appear to be engaging in the same business model of acquiring potentially life-saving drugs to maximize their own corporate profits.”
“We believe it is critical to hold drug companies to account when they engage in ‘a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced specialty’ drugs,” the Democrats said.
“The American people—including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—are fed up with drug companies putting profits before people, and this issue affects the constituents of every single Member of Congress,” the Democrats said.
In August, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to Valeant seeking information about the prices for Isuprel and Nitropress.
On Sept. 21, Sanders and Cummings also sent a letter to Turing requesting information about Daraprim's price increase. Shkreli subsequently announced that he would lower the price of Daraprim “to a point that is more affordable” but didn't say what the new price would be.
On Sept. 28, Canadian company Valeant distributed a letter to its employees seeking to reassure them on drug-pricing concerns due to a drop in its stock price, according to a securities filing. The company said that “while the entire pharmaceutical and biotech sector has been impacted by market volatility and numerous press articles about pharmaceutical pricing, we have been hit particularly hard.”
Valeant said the majority of its portfolio “will continue to deliver strong volume-based organic growth and is not dependent on price increases.”
The company also addressed employee concerns about proposed changes to government reimbursed products in the U.S., saying its exposure to U.S. government reimbursement represents approximately 15 percent of its total revenue. Valeant said its overall strategy is to focus on private and cash pay markets and to minimize government reimbursement.
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The letter is at http://tinyurl.com/pudap8q.
Valeant's securities filing is at http://src.bna.com/pb.
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