Senate Opens Investigation Into Drug Pricing By Pharma Firms

Senate Opens Investigation Into Drug Pricing By Pharma Firms

Martin Shkreli could possibly be the worst PR person in history. After news got out that the “pharma bro” was hiking prices on an old drug by 5000%, Shkreli did not backtrack or apologize, he dug in and doubled down. Furthermore, as the outrage grew he promised to lower prices but then never did. His antics on twitter and seemingly uncaring attitude towards others caused this once obscure CEO to become international news and known as the most hated man in the world. Now it looks like he may regret that all. The Senate wants answers from four drug companies and one happens to be Shkreli’s current firm, and another is the one where he was CEO until a few months ago. That company, Retrophin is suing Shkreli for $65M, “in return”, Shkreli is shorting the stock. We hope (or maybe not) that he puts on a better act on the Senate floor.

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U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R) and Claire McCaskill (D) announced a bipartisan Senate investigation into pharmaceutical drug pricing on Wednesday. The Senate drug pricing investigation comes following media reports about huge drug price increases (often on older drugs) when pharmaceutical firms merge or buy the rights to a drug from another company.

The Senate investigators have requested that four pharmaceutical companies — Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin Inc, and Rodelis Therapeutics — produce documents and other information regarding their drug pricing practices.

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Drug Pricing

Details on Senate drug pricing investigation

According to a press release from the office of Senator Collins, the newly announced investigation will include a thorough examination of substantial price increases on recently acquired off-patent drugs, mergers and acquisitions within the pharmaceutical sector that have led to dramatic increases in off-patent drug prices; and the FDA’s role in the drug approval process for generic drugs, as well as distribution protocols and its current off-label regulatory regime.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Collins, has scheduled a hearing regarding the investigation into drug pricing for December 9, 2015 and will hold additional  hearings in the future if required.

Statements from Senators Collins and McCaskill

“The sudden, aggressive price hikes for a variety of drugs used widely for decades affect patients and health care providers and the overall cost of health care. These substantial increases have the potential to inflate the cost of health care for Americans, especially our seniors, by hundreds of millions of dollars each year,” Senator Collins noted. “Given the potential harm to patients across our country who rely on these drugs for critical care and treatment, the Senate Special Committee on Aging considers these massive price increases worthy of a serious, bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions.”

Senator McCaskill was blunt in her assessment of the situation and the need for an investigation: “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. 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. I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan investigation so that we can find some answers the public wants and deserves.”

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