WASHINGTON Dec 16 Two U.S. lawmakers are
questioning whether Heritage Pharmaceuticals misled them in
response to a 2014 congressional inquiry about the rising price
a common antibiotic, after 20 U.S. states this week accused the
company of price fixing.
In a Dec. 16 letter to Heritage seen by Reuters, Maryland
Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings and Vermont
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders said they feared the company
was "disingenuous at best" in October 2014 when it told them it
had not seen any significant price increases for its doxycycline
"We are very concerned that you made these assertions to
Congress on behalf of Heritage during the exact time period that
its executives were engaged in a price fixing scheme to prevent
competition from driving down prices of doxycycline hyclate,"
A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a
request for comment on the letter.
The letter to Heritage comes after criminal and civil
charges were filed by the Justice Department and 20 states in
connection with an alleged price fixing scheme involving
doxycycline hyclate and glyburide, a diabetes drug.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department criminally charged
Heritage's former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Glazer and
former Heritage Vice President of Commercial Operations Jason
Malek, accusing them of colluding with other generic
manufacturers in schemes that entailed allocating market share
and conspiring to raise prices.
The next day, 20 states filed a parallel civil lawsuit
against Heritage, along with Mylan NV, Teva
Pharmaceuticals, Mayne Pharma Group, Citron
Pharma and Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., saying they colluded
to fix prices.
The lawsuit characterized Heritage as the "ringleader," with
Glazer and Malek overseeing and running the scheme.
Mylan and Teva have previously denied the states' civil
Sanders and Cummings launched a congressional inquiry into
rising generic drug prices on Oct. 2, 2014, including the price
of doxycycline hyclate.
As part of that, they sent a letter to Glazer while he was
still CEO of Heritage to inquire about the prices.
Gary Ruckelshaus, who was then Heritage's outside counsel
and now serves as vice president and general counsel, responded
later that month and said Heritage "has not seen any significant
price increases" for the drug.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)