Heather Bresch is willing to participate in a high-profile industry conference this week, but not testify before Congress — and Sen. Chuck Grassley is miffed.
The Mylan Pharmaceuticals chief executive officer is scheduled to appear this coming Thursday at the Forbes Health Summit, a day-long event where high-ranking health industry types and investors assess the present and peer into the future. And Bresch is a featured participant: she’s agreed to chat for 30 minutes about the “public firestorm” over pricing for the EpiPen allergy device, according to the agenda.
However, her scheduled appearance will occur just one day after the drug maker declined to make any of its executives available to testify at a Senate hearing that Grassley (R-Iowa) had scheduled for Wednesday. The hearing was supposed to review a $465 million settlement that Mylan purportedly reached with the US Department of Justice for shortchanging Medicaid.
And Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is not pleased.
“Pharmaceutical companies should remember their significant relationship with the public and taxpayers via their participation in government programs and their obligations to testify before a Senate committee seeking answers on behalf of the public and taxpayers,” he said in a statement sent to us.
“The billions of dollars Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and patients spend on prescription drugs put drug companies in the public eye. If CEOs can voluntarily appear at health summits, surely they can voluntarily appear before a Senate committee.”
As noted previously, an attorney for Mylan wrote Grassley that the company will not appear for three reasons — the “stated focus of the hearing,” because the hearing involves a “pending matter,” and because both the Justice Department and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have already said they would not send officials to testify. A Mylan spokesman referred us to the letter.
Grassley (R-Iowa), called the hearing after federal officials reported Mylan overcharged Medicaid for EpiPen for years, even though the company had been told it should have provided bigger rebates. The disclosure came amid national outrage over repeated price hikes Mylan imposed on the allergy emergency device and questions about the rebates the drug maker paid to Medicaid.
Ever since CMS officials acknowledged Mylan had received repeated warnings about classifying EpiPen in the Medicaid program, Grassley and other lawmakers have questioned the extent to which the agency properly oversaw Medicaid rebates. And lawmakers have also criticized the settlement, which Mylan announced several weeks ago was being finalized, but the Justice Department never confirmed.
Grassley, by the way, criticized the Justice Department, CMS and Mylan for failing to agree to testify. His spokeswoman noted that he may decide to issue subpoenas in order to reschedule the hearing, although a final decision has not been made. We should note that Bresch did testify this past September before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.