Rauner Company Raised Cost of Life-Saving Drug for Babies 1,300%

From Doug Ibendahl at Republican News Watch:

Bruce Rauner was given multiple chances during last night’s debate, but he couldn’t name one company he’s owned which has created jobs in Illinois.

Not one.

After the debate I noticed a Facebook friend was wondering why Rauner didn’t name Deerfield, Illinois based pharmaceutical company Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

It’s certainly true that during Rauner’s chairmanship of GTCR, the private equity firm acquired Ovation in 2002. GTCR sold Ovation in March of 2009 for $900 million to Denmark-based H. Lundbeck A/S. GTCR didn’t disclose how much it made in the deal, but it’s probably safe to assume it was a lot. We do know that GTCR’s original equity commitment was $150 million.

Ovation certainly had a substantial number of employees when Rauner and his GTCR chums controlled the company, so my Facebook friend’s question is a reasonable one.

But there’s a simple reason why Rauner didn’t mention Ovation last night – and never will.

Rauner is never going to brag about his spoils derived from Ovation because in 2008 the Federal Trade Commission took the company to federal court, accusing it of price gouging and violating antitrust laws.

According to the FTC, Ovation acquired control of the only two drugs used to treat heart defects in premature babies. The company then raised the cost of treatment nearly 1,300 percent. (The Star Tribune reported in 2008 that Ovation also bought three other children’s drugs and raised their prices by 864 to 3,437 percent.)

Ovation acquired the rights to a drug developed by Merck & Co. called Indocin I.V. Ovation then acquired the drug NeoProfen from Abbott Laboratories about a year later in 2006. The FTC asserted the NeoProfen acquisition was unlawful because Ovation knew it was getting the only competitor to its Indocin I.V. drug.

The FTC detailed how Ovation quickly raised the price of Indocin from $36 to nearly $500 a vial. The price of NeoProfen was similarly inflated by Ovation.

The FTC brought its complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 2008. The Minnesota Attorney General joined the FTC as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Read more: Republican News Watch