Sanders slams drug company CEO over prices

Cameron Lancaster

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDem platform draft adopts Sanders proposal on taxing foreign earnings Sanders wins concessions in Dem draft platform Dem draft platform a full repudiation of Trump MORE (I-Vt.) is calling out a much-maligned pharmaceutical company for holding patients “hostage” with the price of its drug. 

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Turing Pharmaceuticals and its CEO Martin Shkreli have faced a wave of negative publicity after news broke last month that it raised the price of drug to treat a life-threatening infection from $13.50 to $750 overnight. 

At the time, Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to the company asking for information on its pricing by Oct. 9. 

The lawmakers now say they have not heard back and that despite Shkreli saying last month that he would lower the price back down, he has not done so. 

“After we sent a letter condemning his blatant profiteering, Mr. Shkreli promised the American people that he would lower the price of this drug,” Sanders and Cummings said in a statement on Friday. “However, instead of lowering the price as he promised, Mr. Shkreli hired an army of new Washington lobbyists and lawyers to stem the massive fallout from his actions and to stymie congressional oversight.”

The Hill reported earlier this month that the company hired lobbyists at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.  

“On behalf of the American people, we are sickened by these actions,” the lawmakers continue. “Mr. Shkreli is holding hostage the patients who rely on this lifesaving medication, as well as the hospitals that administer it, by charging unconscionable prices for a drug on which he has a monopoly—just because he can.”

A spokesman for Turing Pharmaceuticals said the company was "committed to lowering the price of Daraprim."

"To that end, we are working with various stakeholders to ensure we find the right solution, a process which takes time," said Ed Painter, a spokesman for Turing Pharmaceuticals. 

He added that "the right solution will balance the value of the treatment, patient access and affordability."

Sanders and Cummings have long been sounding the alarm about high drug prices. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Energy: Obama signs chemical safety reform into law House caucus to focus on business in Latin America Freedom Caucus urges vote on impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (R-Utah) has agreed to Cummings’s request to hold a hearing on the prices of generic drugs. Those drugs are cheaper versions of medicines, but their prices have been rising recently nonetheless.