Teva cozied up to Trump with hydroxychloroquine donation after he touted unproven COVID-19 drug as “game changer,” walked away from DOJ talks “daring the Trump administration to file charges”
Teva being investigated for massive generic drug price-fixing conspiracy
DOJ had May 31st deadline to act….has not released an update since then
Washington, DC – Today, Patients Over Pharma sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr calling on him to release details about the status of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Teva Pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the letter seeks information regarding whether the long-running investigation has been influenced by Teva’s lobbying, close ties to the Administration, or donations of hydroxychloroquine immediately following President Trump’s endorsement of the anti-malarial drug as a COVID-19 treatment.
This letter follows reporting that Teva “all but walked away” from settlement talks with the DOJ “essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges” against a company that appeared to be supporting President Trump’s COVID-19 response efforts, as well as reporting that the DOJ had a May 31st deadline to decide whether to bring charges against Teva, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations – which passed without any information released on the status of the investigation.
“We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure,” wrote Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US.
Last week it was reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine…provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.”
Full text of letter
The Honorable William Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Attorney General Barr,
We write with a number of questions regarding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into alleged price fixing of generic drugs by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure.
On March 19, 2020: President Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine for the first time at the Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, saying “now, a drug called…hydroxychloroquine…it’s shown very encouraging…early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately…I think…there’s tremendous promise…I think it’s going to be great.”
The next day, March 20, 2020, Teva announced that it would be donating “potential COVID-19 treatment, Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Tablets” to hospitals across the country.
On March 23, 2020, according to a whistleblower complaint, the General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bob Charrow, passed down an “urgent directive” from the White House to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) “to drop everything” to make donated hydroxychloroquine available to the public via an Investigational New Drug status that would have been even more permissive than emergency use authorization. Charrow joined the administration from Greenberg Traurig, and per his financial disclosure, his clients included Teva Pharmaceuticals. The whistleblower, Dr. Bright, “opposed the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as lacking scientific merit, even though the Administration promoted it as a panacea.”
Then, in April, according to reports, Teva “all but walked away” from settlement talks with the DOJ “essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges” in the price fixing investigation. According to the reports, “a week or two before Teva’s lawyers pulled out of the settlement talks, a board member, Roberto Mignone, reached out to the White House to discuss the company’s efforts to provide drugs that might help treat the coronavirus” and that “in an ensuing discussion with officials on the White House’s coronavirus task force, Teva positioned itself as a valuable partner in the manufacturing and distribution of potential medical treatments for the coronavirus.” It was further reported that “Teva executives and board members believe that one reason the Trump administration will back down is to avoid the impression that it is harming a company that is helping the United States fight the coronavirus.”
It was subsequently reported that the DOJ had until May 31st to decide whether to bring charges against Teva and seek an indictment, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations. But no additional information has been released since that reported deadline came and went.
On June 15, 2020, the FDA ended the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine as treatment for coronavirus, saying the drugs “are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.” According to reporting, “recent randomized controlled trials have found the drugs do not benefit coronavirus patients, and doctors have reported that hydroxychloroquine can cause heart problems.”
It was also recently reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump touted as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against the coronavirus…few hospitals have requested the drug, which was provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.”
Given this timeline, we request responses to the following questions:
- What is the current status of the DOJ investigation into price fixing by Teva Pharmaceuticals?
- If there was an agreement reached between DOJ and Teva to extend the statute of limitations, will the details of that agreement be released, including information on the new deadline as well as who from DOJ was involved in the negotiations with Teva?
- What role, if any, did DOJ leadership, the White House, or other political appointees play in any negotiations with Teva or internal DOJ decisions regarding the price fixing case?
- What role, if any, did Teva’s donations of hydroxychloroquine play in the price fixing investigation, negotiations between DOJ and Teva, or any DOJ decisions regarding the May 31st statute of limitations deadline?
We appreciate your timely responses.
President, Accountable.US ‘