Amgen dodges drug pricing inquiry | The Acorn

A shareholder group has been turned away in its attempt to force Amgen to reveal how it sets the prices of its top-selling prescription drugs.

The shareholder group, Mercy Investment Services, told Amgen in a letter that its members are worried about consumer outrage over high pharmaceutical prices and by comments made by President Trump that drug makers are “getting away with murder.”

Mercy had asked Amgen for a list of price increases for its 10 top-selling prescription drugs between 2010 and 2016 and for the rationale behind the hikes.

Amgen attorney Andrea Robinson argued that drug pricing criteria fall under “ordinary business operations,” which needn’t be disclosed to shareholders.

In a Feb. 10 ruling, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sided with the Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant and ruled that its drug pricing strategy does not need to be disclosed.

“We will not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if Amgen omits (drug price information) from its proxy materials,” an SEC staff attorney told Amgen in a report obtained by The Acorn. Mercy Investment includes mostly religious-based holdings such as St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and Dignity Health, which operates St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo.

“Drug pricing represents a moral issue for the religious community,” the attorney for the shareholders, Paul Neuhauser, said.

Neuhauser said that in the past year, CEOs of major drug companies have appeared before Congress and have been roundly criticized over the cost of their products—including the life-saving EpiPen device and its infamous 400 percent price hike.

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