Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) took a Big Pharma CEO to the woodshed this week when the House Oversight Committee took on the pressing issue of skyrocketing drug prices.
As we all know, drug prices in the United States are super high compared to prices in other nations. For instance, a drug that costs only $8 in Australia costs $2,000 in the United States. The price of insulin in the United States is also ridiculously high but far more affordable in other countries. And the same can be said of just about every drug on the market, including Humira, which costs $77,000 per year in the United States but only $18,500 per year in Canada.
The price differences are staggering, leaving no doubt as to why Americans are demanding that the government step in to fix the problem. Of course, universal healthcare and price controls would pretty much do away with high drug prices. Republicans and some Democrats, however, would rather the crisis drag on as long as they are getting that sweet campaign cash from Big Pharma.
Porter is not one of those lawmakers, as she proved when she grilled AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez over the supposed reason why drug prices are so high.
Gonzalez alone makes $24 million a year, as do other executives at other Big Pharma companies. Yet, Big Pharma insists that high prices are justified because of the cost of research and development.
The problem is that the cost of research and development at AbbVie is $2.45 billion while the company spends nearly double that on advertising, which Porter pointed out. She also called out Gonzalez for lying about how much his company pays executives.
“About $60 million a year,” Gonzalez claimed.
“Try $334 [million] on for size,” Porter replied, going on to roast AbbVie for spending an additional $50 billion on stock buybacks and dividends to enrich themselves on the backs of suffering Americans who can hardly afford to pay for the prescription drugs they need.
“You’re spending all this money to make sure you make money rather than spending money to invest in [and] develop drugs and help patients with affordable, lifesaving drugs,” Porter continued. “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. The Big Pharma fairy tale 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 fact [is] that you’re not honest about that with patients and policymakers—that you’re feeding us lies that we must pay astronomical prices to get ‘innovative’ treatments.’ The American people, the patients, deserve so much better.”
Here’s the video via Twitter:
Big Pharma says they need to charge astronomical prices to pay for research and development. Yet, the amount they spend on manipulating the market to enrich shareholders completely eclipses what’s spent on R&D. Today, I confronted a CEO about the industry’s lies, with visuals ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/c3jSLr0yVd
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) May 18, 2021
In fact, it turns out that Big Pharma companies also collude with each other to keep prices high instead of competing with each other by keeping them lower. In short, it’s one big get-rich scam. And Congress needs to pass a law to put an end to it.
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