Investigation of the "Gray Market"

Investigation of "Drug Speculation" by "Gray Market" Drug Companies 886335FDA_recall

In the 112th Congress, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings launched an investigation into why hospitals and other health care providers have difficulty obtaining short-supply prescription drugs needed to treat patients suffering from cancer and other life-threatening conditions.

The investigation resulted in a bicameral report titled “Shining Light on the Gray Market,” which exposed a network of private “gray market” companies that take advantage of the national drug shortage crisis to charge exorbitant prices for drugs used to treat cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Follow the links below to learn more about the investigation.

Five Things You Should Know:

1.  Ranking Member Cummings launched his investigation after receiving a heartfelt letter from Brenda Frese, the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland, whose son was diagnosed with leukemia and treated with a drug called cytarabine, which at that time was on FDA’s shortage list.

4. The investigation found that “gray market” drug companies charge exorbitant prices for shortage drugs; that "fake pharmacies" acquire prescription drugs and sell them into the gray market; and that drugs are marked up repeatedly as they pass from owner to owner.

2. Ranking Member Cummings requested internal documents from five “gray market” companies to determine how they obtain shortage drugs, and how much they profit by selling them to hospitals, pharmacies, and health care providers.

5. Ranking Member Cummings introduced legislation to reform gray market drug sales, H.R. 5853, the "Gray Market Drug Reform and Transparency Act of 2012." The bill includes several provisions to address weaknesses in the drug supply chain, deter price gouging, and improve drug safety and efficacy.

3.   Senators Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin joined Ranking Member Cummings' investigation, which expanded to look at 125 different “gray market” companies and 300 separate drug transaction chains. Ranking Member Cummings was invited to present on the findings before the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee. 




How a Typical Drug Chain Should Work:


What Happens In the Gray Market:



Quick Links: 

Press Clips:

    • Watch VIDEO CBS Baltimore -- Cummings Testifies on Drug Shortages on Capitol Hill
    • Read AP Story on Cummings, Rockefeller, and Harkin Investigation
    • Watch ABC World News Tonight story on "Fake Pharmacies"  
    • Watch NBC Nightly News Story on Cummings Gray Market Investigation
    • Watch CBS Evening News Story on Cummings Gray Market Investigation

    Documents and Press Releases 

    • Read about the background of the investigation.
    • Visit the Tip Line
    • Learn about "Fake Pharmacies"
    • Read Cummings and Sen. Rockefeller's  Joint Report on “Gray Market” Drug Companies Charging Exorbitant Prices for Drugs Facing Critical National Shortages
    • Read Cummings Testifies Before Senate Commerce Committee on “Gray Market” Drug Companies Charging Exorbitant Prices for Drugs Facing Critical Shortages
    • Read Cummings, Rockefeller, and Harkin Investigate “Fake Pharmacies” Buying and Selling Shortage Drugs in the Gray Market
    • Read Senate Chairmen Join Cummings’ Investigation of “Gray Market” Drug Companies
    • Read Cummings Investigates “Drug Speculation” and “Gray Market” Sales of Drugs in Critically Short Supply
    • Read Cummings letter from Brenda Frese