“Pharmaceutical executives, who should be making medicines affordable for the American people, were instead busy coordinating a cover-up scheme to hide the truth about their price-fixing.”
After 44 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit accusing some of America’s largest generic drug manufacturers of a sprawling “multi-year conspiracy” to hike prices on life-saving medicines—in some cases by over 1,000 percent—Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday demanded that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the companies’ price-fixing scheme and their alleged efforts to obstruct congressional probes.
“It is sick and disgraceful that generic pharmaceutical executives, who should be making medicines affordable for the American people, were instead busy coordinating a cover-up scheme to hide the truth about their price-fixing conspiracy when we asked about their skyrocketing prices,” Sanders said, referring to letters he and Cummings sent in 2014 to inquire about soaring drug costs.
“The Department of Justice must hold these bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
The companies’ responses to these inquiries, Sanders said Thursday, amounted to “‘polite f-u’ letters designed to obstruct our investigation” and “were clearly illegal.”
“The Department of Justice must hold these bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Sanders said.
In their letter (pdf) on Thursday, Sanders and Cummings called on the DOJ to “prioritize criminal enforcement of federal anti-trust laws against generic drug manufacturers.”
If the allegations made in the lawsuit by state attorneys general are true, Sanders and Cummings wrote, “civil enforcement will not be sufficient to protect consumers or businesses that compete fairly.”
Sanders and Cummings also urged the Justice Department to launch a probe into whether companies “coordinated with each other to mislead our offices’ investigation in 2014 into suspicious price increases of generic drugs.”
“In response to our document and information requests, these companies gave excuses for raising prices—such as the costs of regulatory compliance, drug shortages, and user fees—that were at best, grossly misleading, and at worst, false statements to Congress,” Sanders and Cummings wrote. “For these reasons, we request that the Department of Justice open an investigation.”
As Common Dreams reported last month, the lawsuit by 44 state attorneys general—which described the pharma giants’ scheme as “one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States”—named 20 generic drug manufacturers, including Pfizer, Mylan, and Novartis.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, whose state led the investigation, said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed that the probe uncovered “hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people.”
“We have emails, text messages, telephone records, and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs,” said Tong.
Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China
Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.
Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.
Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs
President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.
At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.
But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.
"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.
Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan
Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.
Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.
It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.
"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.