Two Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers feel 'oblig­ed' to warn drug­mak­ers that De­mo­c­rat col­league Cum­mings is pur­port­ed­ly out to de­flate their stock prices

The pro­lif­ic chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Re­form Eli­jah Cum­mings kicked off an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to “sky­rock­et­ing” drug prices in the Unit­ed States — a con­tentious is­sue that has sparked bi­par­ti­san furor — when he sent in­quiries to a dozen ma­jor drug­mak­ers seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on pric­ing prac­tices this Jan­u­ary. But it looks like two of his Re­pub­li­can col­leagues are not im­pressed with the probe, in­sin­u­at­ing that the De­mo­c­rat sen­a­tor is col­lect­ing “sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion” to bring down phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal stock prices.

Jim Jor­dan

The two rank­ing de­trac­tors, Jim Jor­dan and Mark Mead­ows — lead­ers of the con­ser­v­a­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus — last week sent across let­ters to the same slate of drug­mak­ers Cum­mings con­tact­ed, say­ing they felt “oblig­ed” to in­form the com­pa­nies that Cum­mings has pre­vi­ous­ly re­leased “sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion uni­lat­er­al­ly” as part of sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Jor­dan and Mead­ows ac­cused Cum­mings of seek­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion in this in­stance that would “like­ly harm the com­pet­i­tive­ness of your com­pa­ny if dis­closed pub­licly,” ac­cus­ing the chair of “boast­ing” about the “as­tro­nom­i­cal” im­pact on stock prices the probe has had.

This charge is based on an in­com­plete, out-of-con­text quote from Cum­mings sup­plied by Jor­dan and Mead­ows in their let­ter, as un­der­scored by Buz­zFeed.

Mark Mead­ows

In their let­ter, the Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers quote Cum­mings flag­ging the work of his staffers, os­ten­si­bly called the “drug team” that has been work­ing on drug costs: “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.”

But their let­ter does not of­fer con­text that at the time, Cum­mings was re­quest­ing for more funds for the Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Re­form, which Jor­dan, as the rank­ing Over­sight Re­pub­li­can, ob­ject­ed to. Their let­ter al­so failed to men­tion that Cum­mings did not fin­ish his sen­tence at “as­tro­nom­i­cal”; he went on to say “…as­tro­nom­i­cal, sav­ing the tax­pay­ers mon­ey,” and lat­er added that what­ev­er funds his com­mit­tee were to re­ceive, it will be re­turned “in sav­ings by root­ing out fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Eli­jah Cum­mings

In­stead, Jor­dan and Mead­ows made clear in their let­ter that Cum­ming’s com­mit­tee should not em­bark up­on an “par­ti­san” in­ves­ti­ga­tion en­gi­neered to neg­a­tive­ly im­pact stock prices, al­though “we can­not spec­u­late about Chair­man Cum­mings’ mo­tives.”

Da­ta show that de­spite the high­er cost of health­care borne by the Unit­ed States, the coun­try ac­tu­al­ly per­forms worse across var­i­ous health mea­sures ver­sus a num­ber of oth­er high-in­come na­tions. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Politi­co/Har­vard poll, an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­i­ty of Amer­i­cans ranked ad­dress­ing the cost of med­i­cines as a top pri­or­i­ty for the new Con­gress.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed steps to curb prices, and var­i­ous law­mak­ers have al­so made it a cor­ner­stone is­sue, in­clud­ing Sen­a­tor Chuck Grass­ley, the new chair of the Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren.

John Hood [file photo]

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On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

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