Drug Company Head Faces Grilling Over Massive Increases in Drug Price

Drug Company Head Faces Grilling Over Massive Increases in Drug Price

Last week we reported that Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, was going to hold a hybrid hearing to examine the pricing and business practices of AbbVie Inc., which sells the anti-inflammatory drug Humira and the cancer drug Imbruvica.

Humira is the best-selling drug in the United States and the world and Maloney wanted to find out why its manufacturer, AbbVie, has raised its price 27 times since launching Humira in 2003.  Humira is now priced at $2,984 per syringe, or $77,586 annually—a 470% increase from when the drug entered the market.

AbbVie, and its partner Janssen Biotech, Inc., have also raised the price of Imbruvica nine times since launching the drug in 2013.  Today, Imbruvica is priced at $181,529 per year for a patient taking three pills per day, as compared to $99,776 per year at launch.

Again, Maloney wanted to know why such huge price increases took place.

According to a report in The Hill newspaper, Democrats on her committee accused the company of “taking advantage of patients and the health care system to charge more for medicine and bring in billions of dollars for revenue and executive bonuses.”

“You haven’t made the drug any better even as you doubled the cost,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) said during the hearing. “You’re feeding us lies that we must pay astronomical prices to get innovative products.”

In her closing remarks, Chairwoman Maloney said, “But the facts showed that AbbVie raised prices on Americans for one simple reason: greed.”

She added that AbbVie pushed for escalated prices in the U.S. because Medicare does not have the ability to negotiate lower drug prices, while other nations could.

Committee member Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), asked the drug company representative, “How can you defend American prices of pharmaceuticals overseas versus the prices on drugs in the nation that you love?”

“Your answers to the chair were evasive at best and appear to be obviously written by attorneys,” Higgins said.

TSCL is pleased that members of Congress are looking seriously at the problem of the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.  Evidence like this will aid us in our efforts to get legislation to reduce drug prices.