GOP Tells Drug Companies Not to Play Ball With House Investigation

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

House Republicans have written a very strange letter to pharmaceutical company CEOs warning them against an investigation by the House Oversight Committee, according to BuzzFeed News.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who chairs the Oversight Committee, requested information from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and others as part of an investigation into how drug prices are set.

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Now, GOP Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who are members of the hyper-conservative Freedom Caucus, have sent the CEOs of these companies a letter warning them to not share information with Cummings.

Meadows and Jordan told the CEOs that Cummings’ request is part of a plan to undermine their stock prices. They wrote that he is looking for information “that would likely harm the competitiveness of your company if disclosed publicly.” They also accuse Cummings of “releasing cherry-picked excerpts from a highly sensitive closed-door interview” about White House security clearances.

“This is not the first time he has released sensitive information unilaterally,” they write.

This is very strange, to say the least.

The accusations in the letter rely on one out-of-context quote from Cummings, which he made while testifying in front of the Committee on House Administration to ask for more funding for the investigation. In the quote, he describes the work done by his “drug team,” three staffers who are working on the pricing investigation.

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“If you follow the headlines, we have already seen the impact they have had… on stock prices with regard to drugs. I mean, it has been astronomical,” the quote reads in the letter sent my Meadows and Jordan.

In the video of Cummings’ testimony, he concludes that sentence by adding, “saving the taxpayers money.”

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Drug prices in America are extremely high, costing about $1,200 a year per capita, more than in any other developed country. And the cost is still increasing, jumping by an average of 6.3 percent in 2019.

The usual excuse for this is that American pharmaceutical companies need to recoup on expensive research and development costs. But one study from the journal Health Affairs found that drug companies were raising American drug prices unnecessarily.

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“We found that, in the case of brand-name drugs, rising prices were driven by manufacturers increasing prices of medications that are already in the market rather than [by] the entry of new products,” the study’s author told CNBC.

In 2016, another study found that even 14 percent of insured Americans say they will sometimes skip prescriptions because of the cost.

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Jordan’s office told BuzzFeed News that their letter was not meant to dissuade companies from cooperating with Congress, but rather recommended they cooperate in a “responsible and legitimate” way. The office reiterated their fears that the investigation is a ploy to lower stock prices.

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