UPDATE 1-U.S. House Democrats question if Valeant is withholding records

Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:58pm EDT
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(Adds comment from a Valeant spokeswoman)

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) - Democrats on a powerful U.S. congressional panel are questioning whether Canada-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals may be wrongfully withholding documents in connection with its ongoing probe into sky-rocketing drug prices, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The memo, which was sent to Democratic members of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from the staff of its top Democrat Elijah Cummings, reveals that Valeant previously withheld readily available analyst reports prepared by banks such as Goldman Sachs, saying they were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The memo says it also raises questions about other documents that are still being withheld, saying some of these "were not drafted by attorneys and do not include communications with attorneys."

A spokeswoman for Valeant denied that the company has done anything wrong, saying it has already provided more than 78,000 pages of documents and will continue cooperating.

"We continue to discuss with the committee the issue of privileged documents, but any suggestion that we have withheld documents inappropriately is incorrect," Laurie Little said in a statement.

The April 26 memo comes just one day before three of Valeant's top executives are slated to appear before a different U.S. Senate panel that is also investigating high drug prices.

The company's outgoing CEO Michael Pearson will be testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging late Wednesday afternoon, along with activist investor William Ackman, a majority shareholder and board member, and Howard Schiller, a director and former chief financial officer.   Continued...