After Shkreli’s departure, Turing’s chief commercial officer and the interim CEO of Canada’s largest drugmaker, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, received a bipartisan lashing from the lawmakers.
Internal documents released by the committee show that Valeant and Turing have made a practice of buying and then dramatically raising prices for low-cost drugs given to patients with life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, AIDS and cancer.
Chaffetz, an admitted “conservative guy” who accepts that companies need to make profits, said he was disgusted. And Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., told them: “This is a scandal, an absolute abuse of power, an abuse of the pharmaceutical industry.”
With Shkreli mum, it was up to Turing’s Nancy Retzlaff to defend the Daraprim price rise. She said the company invests in research and development, as well as programs that help patients afford drugs. Turing tries to strike the right balance between those needs and rewarding shareholders, Retzlaff testified.
“I don’t believe my company has done anything wrong,” she said.
As early as last May, Turing planned to turn Daraprim into a $200-million-a-year drug by dramatically increasing its price, according to documents obtained by the committee. Turing bought the 60-year-old drug in August for $55 million.
Shkreli said in an email to one contact: “We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000. Should be a very handsome investment for all of us.”
As for Valeant, documents indicate the company believed it could repeatedly raise the prices of the lifesaving heart drugs Nitropress and Isuprel without repercussions because the medicines are administered by hospitals, which are less price-sensitive than consumers.
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