Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will 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. Since launching Humira in 2003, AbbVie has raised its price 27 times. 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.
On January 14, 2019, the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings launched the Committee’s investigation into the pricing practices of 12 drug companies that sell 19 of the costliest medications for patients, consumers, and taxpayers in the United States, including AbbVie’s drugs Humira and Imbruvica. Chairman Cummings wrote to AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez and others to request information on price increases, investments in research and development, and corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power for their products.
On June 21, 2019, Chairman Cummings sent follow-up letters to all of the companies requesting voluntary compliance with the Committee’s requests. On September 27, 2019, he sent a third letter—only to AbbVie—warning that its responses were “woefully inadequate” and that the Committee would consider a subpoena if the company failed to provide complete responses.
On September 1, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney notified all Committee Members of her intent to issue a subpoena to AbbVie if they continued to stonewall the Committee’s investigation. After this notice, AbbVie finally began producing long overdue materials in response to the Committee’s requests.
On April 29, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of Members and Senators to introduce legislation that would target anticompetitive practices employed by large drug companies.
Mr. Tahir Amin
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge
Mr. Craig Garthwaite
Herman Smith Research Professor in Hospital and Health Services, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Mr. Richard Gonzalez
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, AbbVie Inc
Dr. Aaron Kesselheim
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School