- Rep. Katie Porter grilled AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez over why the pharmaceutical giant’s drug prices have risen.
- The California Democrat used a whiteboard and paper cut-outs to illustrate her argument.
- Porter has become well-known for using her “whiteboard of justice” to grill CEOs.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat, accused AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez of lying to Americans and policymakers about why the pharmaceutical giant has dramatically increased the prices of some of its most popular drugs during a Tuesday House Oversight Committee hearing.
Using a whiteboard and paper cut-outs to illustrate her points, Porter argued that the pharma company falsely claimed that it raised the prices of its drugs in order to fund increased investments in research and development. She pointed out that the company spent just $2.45 billion on research and development between 2013 and 2018, while it spent $4.7 billion on marketing and advertising, and $50 billion on stock buybacks and dividends.
“So Mr. Gonzalez, you’re spending all this money to make sure you make money, rather than spending money to invest in, develop drugs and help patients with affordable, life-saving drugs,” she said. “You lie to patients when you charge them twice as much for an unimproved drug and then you lie to policymakers when you tell us that R&D justifies those price increases.”
She added, “The Big Pharma fairytale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices, but the pharma reality is that you spend most of your company’s money making money for yourself and your shareholders.”
The House Committee released a report on Tuesday finding that AbbVie raked in billions in revenue by raising the prices of two of its drugs — Humira and Imbruvica — in the US over the last 20 years. Since 2003, AbbVie has raised the price of Humira — which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Chron’s, among other autoimmune and gastrointestinal illnesses — by over 470% with 27 individual price increases, according to the report. AbbVie has earned more than $20 billion in revenue annually for the last three years for Humira alone, making it the pharma industry’s best-selling drug.
A spokesman for AbbVie didn’t respond immediately to Insider’s request for comment.
Porter, who taught bankruptcy and commercial law at several law schools before running for office, has become well-known for using her “whiteboard of justice” to grill CEOs. A single mother, Porter says she also uses her whiteboard to keep her kids in line at the dinner table with a list of rules.
—Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) May 18, 2021