- Innate Immunotherapeutics officials are saying Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, got a privileged offer to purchase discounted shares, contrary to what he told lawmakers earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- During Senate confirmation hearings on Jan. 18 and Jan. 24, Price testified that discounted shares he bought in Australia-based Innate Immunotherapeutics “were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”
- According to the Journal, officials of Innate Immunotherapeutics said Price got its shares on privilege, being one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors invited last June to purchase stock at 12% off the publicly traded price. He invested between $50,000 and $100,000 to help fund a clinical trial of the drugmaker’s multiple sclerosis drug.
Price, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee and has been nominated by President Trump to lead HHS, has drawn criticism for trading in healthcare stocks while working on legislation that could affect their value.
Price bought between $1,001 and $15,000 in shares of Zimmer Biomet, a medical devicemaker, just a week before introducing legislation that could have benefited the company financially. That bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, was approved by Congress and signed into law by former President Barack Obama late last year.
Price has said he will divest all of his healthcare stocks within 90 days if confirmed as HHS Secretary.
There is currently no drug treatment for advanced secondary progressive MS, which the drug is designed to address, and only one other drug is in development — by Novartis. If Innate Immunotherapeutics’ won regulatory approval to market its drug in the U.S., shareholders would stand to gain.
In his Jan. 24 confirmation before the Senate Finance Committee, Price promised to preserve Medicaid coverage for individuals who currently have it, which would include those who qualified under Medicaid expansion. Price also said he would get rid of the so-called “Cadillac tax” on employer-sponsored health plans that exceed $10,200 in premiums, but would keep coverage for preventive services.
The Senate Finance Committee was supposed to vote on Price's nomination today, but Democrats on the committee boycotted voting, presenting a list of demands. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) opposed the boycott.