Democrat Katie Porter accuses pharma CEO of inflating drug prices and ‘lying’ to patients and policymakers – all with the help of her whiteboard

Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) sits on the House Financial Services Committee.
Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

  • 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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pfizer and BioNTech are filing for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine with the FDA

pfizer vaccine
vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line health care workers under an emergency use authorization at a drive up vaccination site from Renown Health in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech are the first of the three US-approved vaccines to file for non-emergency approval with the FDA.
  • If approved, the FDA would allow Pfizer to administer shots even after the pandemic state of emergency ends.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Pfizer and BioNTech are asking the Food and Drug Administration for full regulatory approval of their jointly-produced COVID-19 vaccine. The move would allow the companies to produce and distribute the shots even after the coronavirus pandemic state of emergency is lifted.

Reports that the companies were seeking full approval first came Friday from CNN and CNBC.

The Pfizer and BioNTech two-shot vaccine was approved for emergency use in December as coronavirus cases in the US continued to spike. Under a state of emergency declaration, the companies were allowed to administer vaccines to the public based on a shorter data span, per CNN.

About 170 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in the US under the Emergency Use Authorization, according to CNN.

The process for full FDA approval works on a rolling basis, allowing Pfizer and BioNTech to submit documents as they are prepared. The companies have also asked the FDA to expedite the process, according to CNBC.

The drug companies are seeking a Biologic License Application using clinical data, CNBC reported. If the BLA is approved by regulators, the vaccine would be permanently available to members of the US population from ages 16 and up.

Under an emergency use authorization, Pfizer and BioNTech also have less control over their pricing and distribution. Full authorization would allow them to potentially charge more for the vaccine, according to CNN.

Insider reported in April that the drug companies were increasing production in order to meet a stated goal of 300 million doses by the end of July.

And most recently, on April 23, the FDA revised standards for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with a warning about a potential “very rare and very serious type of blood clot in people who have received it.”

Read the original article on Business Insider