GAO Subpoenas Pfizer CEO For Failing to Give Rx Prices
General Accounting Office investigators have subpoenaed Pfizer Inc.'s CEO Dr. Henry McKinnell, after the company failed to provide the agency with requested prescription drug pricing information, the New York Times reports. Last summer, the GAO requested drug pricing information from 11 pharmaceutical companies as part of an investigation into whether companies "improperly reported" the average wholesale price -- the price reported to the government and used to set Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates -- of various drugs, while selling the drugs to providers for less. The HHS inspector general estimates that "inaccurate" drug price information is costing taxpayers upwards of $1 billion annually "just in overpayments for the two dozen drugs that Medicare now covers." Saying that drug pricing information was "proprietary and should remain confidential," Pfizer was the only company that failed to comply with the GAO's request, investigators said. Pfizer confirmed that McKinnell had received the subpoena, but spokesperson Mariann Caprino declined to comment because the document was still being reviewed. The Times reports that over the last year, pharmaceutical companies have been "repeatedly criticized" for reporting "inaccurate" drug price information. The practice allegedly allows physicians to make money off the drugs, possibly boosting drug makers' sales. TAP Pharmaceutical Products last October reached an $875 million settlement with the government over criminal and civil charges of "illegally manipulat[ing] the Medicare and Medicaid programs" by inflating the reported price of its prostate cancer drug Lupron (Petersen, New York Times, 1/8).