FTI Consulting assisting pharma giant Pfizer with drug pricing

31 May 2019 Consulting.us 3 min. read

Advisory firm FTI Consulting is working Pfizer on drug pricing. The disclosure of FTI's ties with the pharmaceutical juggernaut comes at a time when Pfizer is fazing accusations of price hiking in a federal lawsuit brought against drug companies by 44 states.

Charlene MacDonald, a managing director in FTI Consulting’s strategic communications arm, is working directly with Pfizer. MacDonald has a wealth of healthcare and political experience, formerly serving as senior policy advisor to current Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, as well as senior policy advisor for Medicare & Social Security at the Senate Budget Committee.

FTI's strategic communications team – 700 strong globally – supports companies among others with managing their public affairs, corporate reputation and government relations. Information obtained through a public filing reveals that MacDonald's work at Pfizer centers around drug pricing matters, although further information on the scope's mandate has not been released.

FTI Consulting assisting pharma giant Pfizer with drug pricing

Expensive drugs

The consulting firm's engagement for Pfizer takes place against a controversial backdrop. The pharma giant is currently embroiled in a lawsuit led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. Pfizer is one of 20 organizations – including Teva, Myland, and Sandoz – which is alleged to have conspired to inflate prices of more than 100 generic medications. Fifteen individuals, predominantly pharmaceutical executives, are also named in the case. The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, and legal actions to restore competition to the generic drug market.

“We have hard evidence that the generic drug industry perpetrated a multibillion dollar fraud on the American people,” Tong said in an official statement. “We have emails, text messages, telephone records, and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multiyear conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs.”

Tong’s statement alleges that drugs involved in the price hike include those used to treat cancer, diabetes, depression, HIV, and arthritis. The drugs come in all forms – tablets, capsules, creams, gels, ointments – and classes, such as beta blockers, antibiotics, and contraceptives. The price inflation has affected the health insurance market, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and individual citizens.

“We all wonder why our healthcare, and specifically the prices for generic prescription drugs, are so expensive in this country – this is a big reason why. This investigation is still in its early stages. We will not stop until these companies and the individuals who orchestrated these schemes are held accountable.”

Pfizer has denied its Greenstone generic unit’s involvement with any illegal activity. “[Greenstone] has been a reliable and trusted supplier of affordable generic medications for decades and intends to vigorously defend against these claims,” the company said in a statement.

FTI Consulting has meanwhile confirmed that its work for Pfizer is "directly or indirectly" not connected to the pending litigation.

Related: Consultant in disguise: FTI Consulting employee caught in lie.