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Caught Our Eye

Turing Pharmaceuticals hires lobbying firm in wake of PR disaster

Posted by Steve Shapiro on Oct. 1, 2015

The company that is perhaps the most hated in America hired its first lobbyists this week as it continues to deal with the fallout from its decision to massively hike a drug's price.

Turing and CEO Martin Shkreli made headlines last week when the company decided to raise the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill, a 5000% increase. Now the company has turned to Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney PC, a Pittsburgh-based lobbying firm with a long history of representing pharmaceutical companies, to buttress its interests on Capitol Hill. The firm registered its new client on Sept. 29th and shows the lobbyists as Edward Allera, Michael Strazzella, Timothy Costa and Elizabeth Westbrook. Together they bring experience in the pharmaceutical industry and both state and federal government.

Turing's price hike also drew ire of several members of Congress. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chastised Turing for its actions and warned that the company could be running afoul of government regulations. He has called for a congressional hearing on the matter. The Democrats on the House committee also moved to look into similar actions by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which raised prices earlier this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Cummings in a letter requesting information from Turing on their decision.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus responded to the public outcry by asking Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell what her department can do to address price hikes and whether they actively track other occurrences. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) put out her own press release calling on Congress to act and pass legislation she has authored to lower drug costs.

Response also came from the other side of the aisle. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter calling on the Food and Drug Administration to fix a backlog of generic drug approval as a measure to ease upward pressure on drug prices.