May 11,2018

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Rachel McCleery (202) 224-4515 

Wyden Opens Inquiry into Cohen, Novartis Business Arrangement

Ranking Finance Democrat Questions Drug Maker Novartis as News Reports Detail Its Attempt to Establish Pay-to-Play Scheme with Trump’s Personal Lawyer

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and global pharmaceutical company Novartis to provide details and supporting documents explaining their business arrangement. Novartis has said it paid Cohen’s firm, Essential Consultants, $1.2 million. At the same time, the company was negotiating with Medicare on pricing for a drug that costs nearly half-a-million dollars to treat cancer.

“Reports about Michael Cohen’s dealings with Novartis look more like a corporate shakedown than an honest business arrangement,” Wyden said. “Novartis paid Mr. Cohen hundreds of thousands dollars more than it paid its big-shot lobbyists in Washington. The American public needs to know who at the company signed off on this scheme and what were they expecting in return. Drug prices are already out of reach for too many American families, and drug companies need to be held accountable if they are breaking the law.”

The Senate Committee on Finance has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid. These programs account for a substantial portion of Novartis’ U.S. sales. In 2017, the company reported total U.S. sales of $16.9 billion.

The letter from Wyden to Novartis can be found here.

The letter from Wyden to Cohen can be found here.

Wyden sent an additional letter to the Treasury Department requesting financial information related to suspicious activity reports on Mr. Cohen, his firm Essential Consultants LLC and Novartis. That letter can be found here.