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AG Reyes Urges Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2020

Attorney General Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug showing promising results for those hospitalized due to COVID-19

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan multistate coalition in sending a letter request to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging them to use their legal authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to increase the availability of Remdesivir. Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), has shown promising results in reducing mortality and hospitalization from COVID-19.

“Even though Remdesivir is not a miracle cure for COVID-19, it does show promise in reducing the severity of symptoms and shortening hospital stays,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.  “Given that glimmer of hope, I feel the drug should be accessible to as many people as possible, under the care of their doctor.  Until a vaccine is available, this appears to be one of our best courses of action.”

Remdesivir is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug that was produced with the benefit of millions of dollars of federal funding and the time and expertise of CDC and military scientists. Despite the substantial federal funding provided to its manufacturer, Gilead has been unable to assure a supply of Remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid the pandemic. 

As of August 3, 2020, more than 4.64 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 AND 154,000 have died. Yet, by the end of this year, Gilead is expected to produce only two million treatments, or enough Remdesivir to cover about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S. Before this crisis is over and a vaccine made available, many more Americans may become sick, and their recovery may hinge on the availability and affordability of Remdesivir.

In the letter, the bipartisan coalition urges the federal government to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows the NIH and FDA to ensure Americans can afford and have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of Remdesivir during this pandemic. Despite a manufacturing cost of between $1 and $5, Gilead has set the price of the drug at an outrageous and unconscionable $3,200 per treatment course. Under the Bayh-Dole Act, the NIH and FDA has the authority to license Remdesivir to third party manufacturers to scale up production and distribution and ensure the drug is made available to all those in need at a reasonable price. If these agencies are unwilling to exercise this authority, the states request that the agencies assign this authority for the states to use. The bipartisan coalition stands ready to ensure that drug manufacturers are licensed to meet market demand during this public health crisis.

Attorney General Reyes joined the attorneys general of California, Louisiana and 33 other states in sending the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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Attorney General Reyes Urges Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2020

Attorney General Reyes Urges U.S. Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today signed and supported a bipartisan letter urging the U.S. Senate to pass S. 2563, the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act. 

The letter was also signed by 42 attorneys general and was sent to Sen. Mike Crapo, Chairman, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ranking Member, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

The ILLICIT CASH Act updates the federal framework for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, which has not been comprehensively reassessed since its inception in the 1970s. It creates new tools for information sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement. Along with that, the Act requires a covered entity to report its “beneficial owners,” the actual people who benefit from or control the entity.

“The ILLICIT CASH Act, would increase transparency in the American financial system, and I urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible,” said Attorney General Reyes. “This increased transparency would make it tougher for criminals to use shell companies to launder money from crimes like drug trafficking, terrorism and tax evasion and give law enforcement the resources they so desperately need.”

The letter recognizes that many states do not have the ability to track information on the actual people who control or benefit from corporations and other entities doing business there. Without that information, states cannot know if an entity is a shell for concealing the illicit proceeds of criminals like drug traffickers, terrorist financiers, tax evaders and corrupt government officials.

Under the ILLICIT CASH Act, certain business entities will have to disclose a “beneficial owner” to the federal government. A beneficial owner is a “natural person” who controls an entity, owns at least 25% of it, or receives economic benefits from it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) will then keep all the disclosed beneficial ownership information in a federal registry. The Act requires FinCEN to release beneficial ownership information to law enforcement agencies, including at the local and state levels.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led the letter with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, which was signed by attorneys general in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma,  Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

AG Reyes Joins Bipartisan Fight Against Robocalls With U.S. Supreme Court Filing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2020

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN FIGHT AGAINST NUISANCE ROBOCALLS WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT FILING

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes on Monday joined a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for the preservation of the anti-robocall provisions of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and North Carolina Attorney General Joshua Stein co-authored the bipartisan brief, which is joined by 31 other states.

The TCPA, enacted in 1991, is a critical piece of federal consumer-protection legislation allowing states to sue illegal robocallers on their residents’ behalf. A decision in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently invalidated a portion of the act, potentially jeopardizing the entire federal robocall ban.

“Everyone hates those constant robocalls, which are both annoying and harmful at times,” Attorney General Reyes said. “On behalf of Utah consumers, I am continuing our state’s fight to safeguard peace and privacy without the disturbance of unwanted calls interrupting people’s routines at all hours of the day and night.”

“No court has ever questioned the constitutionality of the TCPA’s robocall restriction, and we must ensure no such challenge is ever taken seriously,” Attorney General Hill said. “We have state laws prohibiting robocalls right here in Indiana, and we must defend our ability both at the federal and state levels to continue protecting Hoosiers from annoying and illegal robocalls.”

Attorney General Reyes continues working with other states’ attorneys general, federal agencies and telephone service providers to develop better technologies and stronger regulations aimed at blocking nuisance phone calls, some of which are perpetrated by scammers and identity thieves.

Read the brief filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court here.

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