FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2015
CONTACT: Jennifer Werner
Cummings Criticizes Fake "Price Cut" for Critical Drug
Cummings Scheduled to Appear Today at Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 2, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, condemning his company's efforts to tout a 50% "price cut" for Daraprim after the company just increased the price of the drug in August by 5,000%.
"Over the past several weeks, your company has issued several press releases touting steps to lower the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat potentially life-threatening parasitic infections in people with compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women and people with HIV/AIDS and cancer," Cummings wrote. "However, your press releases appear to be nothing but a transparent, shameless, and wholly inadequate attempt to resuscitate your image after your company acquired this critical drug in August and increased the price by 5,000% overnight—from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet."
In a press release issued on November 24, Shkreli's company bragged that it was reducing the price of Daraprim for hospitals by 50%. The press release also highlighted that the company would be offering new, smaller bottles "for hospitals to make it easier to stock Daraprim as well as lower their carrying costs."
"To claim that a 50% discount after a 5,000% increase is a 'price cut' is Orwellian double-speak. Because of your actions, hospitals are now being forced to pay about $375 for just one tablet of Daraprim—even after your company's 'price cut'—when less than six months ago the same hospitals paid only $13.50 per tablet," Cummings wrote. "Obviously, you are not doing hospitals any favors by exponentially increasing the price of Daraprim and then decreasing the size of the bottles."
Cummings also criticized another press release in which the company touted a new agreement it reached to sell Daraprim to the Texas AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for $1 per bottle, or $0.01 per tablet. "However, this agreement merely appears to bring your company into compliance with federal law," Cummings wrote. "It appears that this agreement became necessary after your massive price increases and restricted distribution scheme made it nearly impossible for state ADAPs to access Daraprim at affordable prices."
Shkreli's actions have been condemned by the HIV Medicine Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and others. As one project director for an AIDS research and policy organization remarked, "This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig."
On September 21, Cummings wrote to Shkreli along with Senator Bernie Sanders requesting documents justifying these massive price increases. Two days later, Cummings wrote to Shkreli requesting documents relating to the company's pricing for Daraprim under the 340B Drug Discount Program. On October 30, the company responded by declining to provide any of the requested documents, stating: "under the advice of counsel we are unable to provide certain numbers and data related to proprietary information."
Cummings asked Shkreli to reconsider, writing today, "If you truly are committed to ensuring the lowest possible costs for hospitals and patients—as your recent press releases claim—then I ask you to stop obstructing congressional oversight efforts and immediately provide the documents we have requested."
Click here to read today's letter to Shkreli.
Today, Cummings will join other Democratic Members at a hearing before the Steering and Policy Committee at 2:00 p.m. entitled "Ensuring Access and Affordability of Prescription Drugs, While Spurring Innovation." Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats will hear from experts on pharmaceutical pricing and drug innovation, and from community leaders with real stories regarding the inaccessibility of and need for affordable prescription drugs. Click here to watch the hearing.