A Senate committee has started an investigation into the large drug price increases by Turing Pharmaceuticals and three other companies, responding to public concern about escalating prices for critical medicines.
The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging requested documents and information on Wednesday from Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and two other drug makers already under scrutiny for recent price spikes.
Notably, the senators called for a face-to-face meeting with the chief of Turing, Martin Shkreli, “as soon as it is practicable.” A former hedge fund manager, Mr. Shkreli has become the public face of the pricing controversy, after his company raised the price of the anti-infection drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent.
The drug, which Turing acquired in August, is used in the United States to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women and patients with H.I.V.
Turing said in an email: “We are reviewing the committee’s request and, as we have and continue to do with similar congressional inquiries, we look forward to having an open and honest dialogue about drug pricing.”
Separately, Democrats in the House of Representatives called on their Republican colleagues to summon the Turing and Valeant chiefs to a congressional hearing and issue subpoenas to collect documents from their companies. Both firms have refused to turn over documents requested by Democrats on the House oversight committee.
Valeant is already under investigation by several members of Congress for its general business strategy, which involves buying smaller drug developers and then significantly raising the prices of their medicines.
Both Turing and Valeant have also received multiple subpoenas from federal prosecutors seeking information about drug pricing and other policies.
Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said a hearing on the issue was tentatively scheduled for Dec. 9. Ms. Collins is chairwoman of the aging committee, and Ms. McCaskill is its ranking Democrat.
“We need to get to the bottom of why we’re seeing huge spikes in drug prices that seemingly have no relationship to research and development costs,” Ms. McCaskill said in a statement. She added that some of the increases resemble “little more than price gouging.”
(Click here to read the full article, written by The Associated Press, NY Times)