AbbVie CEO looks like a fool before Congress

SUMMARY: “You’re spending all this money to make sure you make money rather than spending money to… help patients,” the California congresswoman told AbbVie’s, Richard Gonzalez. “. That was pretty brutal, but to was right on target by Rep Katie Porter. While AbbVie is a poster for everything wrong with pharma, what they have done doesn’t apply to ALL pharma companies.

A “critical part” of pharmaceutical company AbbVie‘s success is “face-to-face” interaction, CEO Richard Gonzalez explained in an Aug. 27 email outlining its process for bringing thousands of U.S.-based employees back to work at a time when COVID was still out of control. According to CNBC “AbbVie workers say they worry that the company is putting profits ahead of safety and the health of its U.S. employees and their families at risk. Of course.

Consider this:

  • AbbVie, Humira’s manufacturer, kicked off 2020 with a price increase in excess of 7 percent on its mega-blockbuster brand-name treatment.
  • The increase followed total Humira price hikes of 19 percent during 2017 and 2018.
  • The cost of Humira, which is injected via syringe, was more than $72,000 a year on prescription drug websites this week and is not expected to come down until at least 2023.
  • AbbVie won dozens of additional patents — what critics call a “patent thicket” — that extended the exclusive market for the drug.
  • The executives at AbbVie make over $300 million.

But it get worse.

Pharmaceutical company AbbVie significantly inflated prices over the past two decades for patients in the U.S. who take the drugs Humira and Imbruvica, a report released Tuesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee found. The committee concluded that the price increases led to billions of dollars in corporate revenue and hefty bonuses for company executives.

You really want to follow him as a leader?

The report comes after the panel reviewed more than 170,000 of internal data, documents and communications related to the medications over the last 18 years. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., issued a subpoena for the documents last year because the company refused to cooperate with a previous request for the materials.

In testimony before the committee on Tuesday, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez said the company provides financial assistance for customers who have issues paying for their medicine, spends billions of dollars on research and development, and blamed the structure of Medicare’s Part D program for the high costs for some patients.

In January, Fortune reported AbbVie would raise the price of Humira by 7.4%. Why the increase? Drugmakers often claim higher prices are needed to fund research and development. AbbVie spent a total of $2.45 billion on R&D from 2013 to 2018. Porter (D-Calif.) pointed out that the company spends nearly double that—$4.7 billion—annually on advertising.

When Porter asked Gonzalez how much the company compensates its executives, the CEO said, “About $60 million a year.”

“Try $334 [million] on for size,” Porter shot back.

“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,” Porter asserted.

“The Big Pharma fairy tale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices,” she said. “But the pharma reality is that you spend most of your company’s money-making money for yourself and your shareholders.”

Rep Katie Porter

It was a sad day but it was based on truth; the truth of one ruthless pharma company.

At a time when Pfizer is projected to make over $20 billion dollars on their COVID vaccine and is fighting to hold onto the patent while thousands of people are dying around the world pharma is going to take it on the chin. What pisses me off is that these practices do a huge disservice to the people within pharma who believe in what they are doing can help patients.