Rep. Katie Porter demanded to know why Celgene had increased the prices of a cancer drug over 300% in the past decade or so from the then CEO Mark Alles. His compensation increased as revenue increased.
Celgene was aquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019 for $95 billion, including debt. At the time, this was the largest pharmaceutical company acquisition ever.
A handful of newly elected Democrats, including Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Katie Porter of California put drug industry CEOs on the defensive Wednesday like they’ve never been before.
The trio of freshman lawmakers used an Oversight Committee hearing to press the CEOs of Teva, Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb — painfully and directly — on the results of an 18-month investigation into the pricing of two drugs: Teva’s Multiple Sclerosis drug copaxone and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s multiple myeloma drug revlimid.
Porter, a former consumer protection attorney who has made a name for herself by embarrassing CEOs with prosecutorial questions and a white board, lived up to her reputation. She used that white board to display Celgene’s repeated price hikes for revlimid, which now costs $763 per dose, up from $215 in 2005, and demanded that Mark Alles, who served as Celgene’s CEO until Bristol Myers Squibb acquired the company in 2019, on explain whether the drug had improved over the same time period.
When Alles tried to insist that the drug was approved for new indications, Porter pressed harder.
“Did the drug start to work faster? Were there fewer side effects? How did you change the formula or production of Revlimid to justify this price increase?” Porter said. “To recap here: The drug didn’t get any better, the cancer patients didn’t get any better, you just got better at making money, you just refined your skills at price gouging.”
Oh my god, Katie Porter. pic.twitter.com/tO6B7xCx3G
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) September 30, 2020
And some reactions.
Katie Porter is the Megan Rapinoe of congressional hearings. https://t.co/7vdI2lQvfZ
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) September 30, 2020
It’s fucking beautiful to watch someone do the thing they were meant to do. Michael Phelps’ butterfly stroke. Serena Williams’ backhand. Meryl Streep delivering a one-liner. Katie Porter making a ghoulish pharma crook shit himself. https://t.co/TnHNVlYj4j
— Lauren Hough (@laurenthehough) September 30, 2020
There’s literally nothing more satisfying than watching pharma execs squirm when Katie Porter brings out the white board.pic.twitter.com/1tksM3EAi5
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) September 30, 2020
Nothing puts fear in the heart of men than Katie Porter, a whiteboard and then the kicker, she puts on her eyeglasses.
When that happens; checkmate. Your ass is grass.pic.twitter.com/7U2DaK6vDa
— YS (@NYinLA2121) September 30, 2020
— shauna (@goldengateblond) September 30, 2020