Healthcare

Oversight Republicans accuse Cummings of partisan drug pricing probe

Greg Nash

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Friday accused Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) of conducting a partisan investigation into drug prices, and sent a letter alerting a dozen different pharmaceutical companies about his concerns.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the committee’s ranking member, along with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Cummings did not consult with Republicans before launching an investigation into the pricing practices of prescription drug companies.

{mosads}“We hope to persuade Chairman Cummings to work with us on this matter but, in the interim, we felt that it was prudent to raise these issues with you directly,” Jordan and Meadows wrote to the industry executives.

The lawmakers said they were concerned by recent comments Cummings made about the committee’s investigation impacting the stock prices of drug companies.

“While we cannot speculate about Chairman Cummings’s motives, we believe the Committee should not pursue an investigation to ‘impact … stock prices with regard to drugs’ — especially when there is bipartisan interest in real oversight of rising prescription drug prices,” Jordan and Meadows wrote.

In a statement to The Hill, Cummings said he doesn’t understand why Jordan is trying to protect drug companies.

“Rep. Jordan is on the absolute wrong side here — he would rather protect drug company ‘stock prices’ than the interests of the American people,” Cummings said. “I don’t know why on earth House Republicans keep going to the mat to protect drug company profits instead of the families in their own districts who are getting hammered every single day. Even President Trump agrees that drug companies are ‘getting away with murder,’ so why don’t House Republicans?”

In January, Cummings launched a sweeping investigation into the prescription drug industry’s pricing practices, and sent letters to a dozen different companies seeking detailed information and documents on price increases, investments in research and development and corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power.

Cummings asked the companies for information about some of the drugs most often cited as examples of alleged industry price gouging, including Humira, AbbVie’s arthritis medicine.

Jordan and Meadows indicated they were worried Cummings might decide to publicly release that proprietary business information, even though it could harm the company’s competitiveness.

The two specifically cited what they said was Cummings’s unilateral decision earlier this month to release excerpts of closed-door testimony from Tricia Newbold, a White House whistleblower who told the committee about alleged failures in the current security clearance process.

Newbold testified that Trump administration officials overruled her and other career officials in 25 instances in order to grant clearances to officials and contractors despite there being “disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds.

Jordan and other Republicans have accused Cummings of cherry-picking information from Newbold in order to smear the Trump White House.

Updated 2:27 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Elijah Cummings House Oversight and Reform Committee Jim Jordan Mark Meadows Pharmaceutical industry Prescription costs

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