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Cummings Seeks Interviews of Top Valeant Executives

Nov 16, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Seeks Interviews of Top Valeant Executives

 

Washington, DC (Nov. 16, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to J. Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, requesting transcribed interviews with several of the company’s employees after new allegations were raised about Valeant’s relationship with Philidor Rx Services, a mail-order “phantom” pharmacy that Valeant allegedly used to mask its price increases and circumvent the traditional insurance reimbursement process.

“Valeant recently announced that it had terminated its relationship with Philidor because it had ‘lost confidence in Philidor’s ability to continue to operate in a manner that is acceptable to Valeant,’” Cummings wrote.  “However, troubling new allegations suggest that a group of Valeant employees helped launch Philidor’s business in 2013 and have since remained involved in its daily operations.  These allegations suggest that Valeant employees may have been personally involved in questionable billing practices that led Valeant to cut ties with Philidor last month.” 

Cummings has repeatedly requested documents that would help Congress understand whether Valeant is profiteering at the expense of patients, hospitals, and other healthcare providers across the country.  Valeant has rejected these requests, claiming that the documents are “highly proprietary and confidential.”

Click here and see below to read today’s letter.

 

November 16, 2015

 

J. Michael Pearson

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.

400 Somerset Corporate Blvd.

Bridgewater, NJ 08807

 

Dear Mr. Pearson:

 

Over the past year, serious questions have been raised about your company’s business model of purchasing older drugs that have little or no competition in the marketplace and raising their prices dramatically.   Valeant has defended this model, stating that its duty is to its shareholders.   However, you have refused to provide any of the documents I have requested that would help Congress understand whether you are profiteering at the expense of patients, hospitals, and other healthcare providers across the country.

I am writing today to request transcribed interviews with several of your employees.  Recently, questions have been raised about Valeant’s relationship with Philidor Rx Services, a mail-order “specialty pharmacy” that Valeant allegedly used to mask its price increases and circumvent the traditional insurance reimbursement process.   Although Valeant purchased an option to acquire Philidor for $100 million last year, it did not disclose its connections to this “phantom captive pharmacy” until last month, after numerous press accounts reported these connections publicly.   Valeant recently announced that it had terminated its relationship with Philidor because it had “lost confidence in Philidor’s ability to continue to operate in a manner that is acceptable to Valeant.”

However, troubling new allegations suggest that a group of Valeant employees helped launch Philidor’s business in 2013 and have remained involved in its daily operations.  These allegations suggest that Valeant employees may have been personally involved in questionable billing practices that led Valeant to cut ties with Philidor last month.  

            According to a document obtained by Reuters, Valeant employees Bijal Patel and Gary Tanner received a November 2014 email providing guidance on ways to re-submit rejected claims to insurance companies in order to obtain higher reimbursement amounts.   Mr. Tanner has been identified by former Philidor employees as “a key figure in the pharmacy’s operations.”   These former employees also report being directed to alter physician-written prescriptions so pharmacies would have to dispense Valeant drugs instead of cheaper generic versions in order to maximize Valeant’s profits.

            Valeant employees reportedly attempted to mask their connections to Valeant by creating fake email identities to conduct their internal Philidor correspondence.   According to one press report, these aliases included Peter Parker, Spider Man’s alter ego, Jack Reacher, the protagonist of a popular book series, and Brian Wilson, the lead singer of the Beach Boys.  According to a Philidor spokesperson, the Valeant employees’ “real identities were well known to the other Philidor employees.”

            To investigate these allegations, I request that you make available for transcribed interviews Garry Tanner, Bijal Patel, and Alison Pritchet.  I also request that you provide contact information for former employee Laizer Kornwasser.  I request that you respond to this request by November 20, 2015.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

 

                                                                        Elijah E. Cummings

                                                                        Ranking Member

 

cc:        The Honorable Jason Chaffetz, Chairman

114th Congress