Valeant subpoenaed over drug pricing

October 17 01:31 2015

U.S. prosecutors have subpoenaed Valeant Pharmaceutical International (VRX) for information about the drugmaker’s drug pricing and distribution policies, as well has how the company helps patients pay for the medications. Shares of Canada-based Valeant closed down nearly 5% at $168.87, partially rebounding from a steeper intra-day drop after the late-Wednesday disclosure.635620981147120361-AP-Valeant-Salix

The subpoenas by the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Massachusetts and New York’s Southern District also seek information the pharmaceutical giant submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Valeant said in a statement. The company also said CEO J. Michael Pearson had responded to questions by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., about the history and pricing of Nitropress, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and Isuprel, a drug used to treat cardiac arrest.

The questions focus on Valeant’s February 2015 decisions to raise the price per vial of Isuprel from $215 to $1,346, and hike the similar dosage of Nitropress from $257.80 to $805.61. Valeant said it was “reviewing the subpoenas and intends to cooperate with the investigations.” Along with answering McCaskill, the ranking minority member on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the company said it was “beginning outreach to hospitals where the impact of a price change was significantly greater than the average.”

“All of us at Valeant firmly believe in maintaining strong regulatory and financial controls and believe we have operated our business in a fully compliant manner,” said Pearson in a statement issued by the company. Valeant’s has been the focus of hospitals, doctors, patients and congressional Democrats over the company’s financial strategy of buying smaller pharmaceutical firms and hiking prices on some drugs obtained through those acquisitions. aSeparately, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a review of Turing Pharmaceuticals, a New York City-based biopharmaceutical startup firm that in August acquired Daraprim, a medication used to treat a parasitic infection. Turing raised the price of a Daraprim tablet from $13.50 to $750, prompting protests from patients, doctors and others.

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