September 29, 2015.
On Sept. 28, 2015, Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked Chairman Jason Chaffetz to issue a subpoena to Valeant Pharmaceuticals to compel the company to turn over documents regarding price increases for Nitropress (sodium nitroprusside injection) and Isuprel (isoproterenol), which treat heart conditions. Valeant increased the prices of the drugs by 212% and 525%, respectively, after buying the drugs in February 2015.
The Democrats’ letter states, “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’.”
In May 2015, ranking member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings asked Committee Chairman Chaffetz to hold a hearing on the drug increases. After Chaffetz declined, ranking members Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Valeant chairman Michael Pearson on Aug. 14, 2015 requesting information in regards to the price increases. The request was rejected in a Sept. 3 letter signed by Valeant’s senior vice-president for investor relations, which stated the information was “highly proprietary and confidential.”
The letter to Chaffetz states, “since Valeant Pharmaceuticals has refused to provide any documents to Congress to explain its massive price increases for these two heart drugs, we request that the committee issue a subpoena compelling Valeant to turn over this information.” The letter also says that even after Valeant purchased the rights to both Isuprel and Nitropress from Marathon Pharmaceuticals, Hospira continued to manufacture the drugs, implying that the price increases could not be attributed to changes in manufacturing.
The Democrats are also requesting that Valeant’s CEO be invited to testify at a hearing, along with Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, about the two companies’ business models. Shkreli has come under fire for purchasing the drug Daraprim and then raising its price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.