Shkreli & Valeant's interim CEO to face down Congress in pricing testimony next week
- At a Congressional hearing on drug pricing set for January 26, several big names from the biopharma sphere are expected to make appearances: Valeant interim CEO Howard Schiller and former Turing Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli.
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummins (D-MD) sent Valeant, Turing, and Shkreli requests for documentation related to the pricing practices associated with the Valeant heart drugs Nitropress and Isuprel and Turing's toxoplasmosis med Daraprim earlier this month.
- Shkreli was kicked out of Turing shortly after his arrest on securities and wire fraud charges in December. Schiller has been serving as drug giant Valeant's interim chief executive as CEO J. Michael Pearson remains on medical leave with severe pneumonia.
Cummings has been out for Valeant and Turing for more than a year now, and he finally succeeded in winning Chaffetz's support in sending the firm requests for documentation and testimony.
Sparks could fly at the hearing given Shkreli's free radical tendencies (if he ultimately shows up). UPDATE: Bloomberg reports that Shkreli was subpoenaed by the committee and that it "expects him to comply with that subpoena." Shkreli's response?
House busy whining to healthcare reporters about me appearing for their chit chat next week. Haven't decided yet. Should I? @RepCummings— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) January 20, 2016
He then went on to tweet out a picture of the Congressional subpoena with the comment, "Found this. Seems important."
Schiller, on the other hand, has been on PR warpath to mend Valeant's reputation after its pricing and distribution controversies dominated headlines in the latter half of 2015 and is reportedly looking forward to testifying in front of lawmakers in order to paint a more complete picture of the firm. He promised that the company will pursue a different pricing strategy and make medications more affordable for patients during the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week.
"We will be relentlessly focused on providing easy and affordable access for physicians and patients," he said, elaborating that Valeant will shift to more of an R&D focus in 2016 and avoid exorbitant price hikes in certain therapeutic portfolios.
What will be particularly interesting to see is whether Schiller comes out and says that the generic drug price hikes are a mistake.
Another clear implication from this hearing: Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are very likely to use any testimony from the panel as yet another cudgel against the biopharma industry.