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Rep. Katie Porter grilled Celgene CEO Mark Alles Wednesday over price hikes on a cancer drug, which she said resulted in a half-million bonus for the pharma executive.
Alles appeared before the House Oversight Committee alongside the CEOs of Teva and Bristol-Myers Squibb as part of a House investigation into the pricing of Teva’s Multiple Sclerosis drug Copaxone and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s multiple myeloma drug Revlimid. Alles served as CEO of Celgene before it was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2019.
“Since launching Revlimid in 2005, Celgene raised the price of the drug 22 times, from $215 per pill to $719 per pill,” according to documents from House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney. “After Bristol Myers Squibb obtained the rights to Revlimid last November, it raised the price of Revlimid again, to $763 per pill. Due to these price increases, a monthly course of Revlimid is priced at $16,023 today — more than triple the 2005 price.”
During the congressional hearing Wednesday, Porter, a former consumer protection attorney, tore into Alles, writing key figures in her questions — such as how much the CEO makes, how much a single pill of Revlimid cost over the years, and how much his bonus was as a result — on a whiteboard to striking effect.
“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. Alles confirmed that the manufacturing for the drug remained the same but said the drug was approved for new indications.
In response, Porter said Alles had been compensated $13 million in 2017 when he was CEO of Celgene — as well as a $500,000 bonus over the last two years after the company hiked the price of Revlimid, the congresswoman 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,” Porter said.
Half a million dollars.
That’s the bonus a Big Pharma CEO got for hiking the price of ONE cancer treatment drug.
How many patients lost their lives because they couldn’t afford this medicine? Here’s our conversation: pic.twitter.com/mkke6y9tnw
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) September 30, 2020
Porter was joined by other freshman lawmakers Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ayanna Pressley in pressing the other CEOs at the hearing, as part of the 18-month investigation into the drug price hikes.
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Source:: Business Insider