The House of Representatives is not through with Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Ranking members of the House Committee on Oversight, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland), just sent the company a letter asking for an explanation as to why it continues to withhold documents about its drug-pricing practices.
The committee has been looking specifically into heart medications, Isuprel and Nitropress, since August of last year. Valeant hiked the prices of those drugs by by 525% and 212% respectively. Last month, Valeant
‘s then-interim CEO, Howard Schiller, went to Washington to testify about the matter.
The day before Schiller’s testimony, on February 3rd, Valeant’s counsel provided legislators with a bunch of “non privileged” documents. Chaffetz and Cummings want to know what was so privileged about the documents that were not included.
Specifically, they want (from the letter):
“(1) a description of each document you have withheld; (2) the total number of pages of each document you have withheld; and (3) the reason you have withheld each document.” They asked for this information by March 23.
“Based on the information you provide in response to this request,” Chaffetz and Cummings wrote, “the Committee will be able to evaluate the basis for your decision to withhold these documents and determine whether, and to what extent, such documents should be provided.”
In other words, they don’t want Valeant picking choosing what to send.
Valeant started facing intense pressure over its pricing practices in the fall, when Hillary Clinton and Senator Claire McCaskill also expressed anger at the company. That, combined with accusations of malfeasance from a short seller, plunged the company into chaos and tanked the stock.
Valeant was forced to reorganise its business in the face of this disaster, and promised to lower its prices, but it doesn’t seem the government is done yet. Chaffetz and Cummings both discussed the need for more transparency on how much it actually costs drug companies to make drugs — until they get more answers about that, they’re unlikely to stop. The SEC and state attorney’s from Massachusetts and New York also have open investigations into the company.