Chairwoman Maloney Releases Staff Report and New Documents Showing Abusive Drug Pricing and Anticompetitive Practices by AbbVie

May 18, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement after releasing a staff report with new documents and details about AbbVie Inc., which sells the anti-inflammatory drug Humira and the cancer drug Imbruvica.  AbbVie has repeatedly raised the prices of these two blockbuster drugs:

 

“Today’s staff report is the result of the Committee’s comprehensive two-year investigation into pharmaceutical pricing practices.  The findings show how AbbVie repeatedly raised the price of life-saving drugs to satisfy corporate greed.  These price hikes led to billions of dollars in corporate profits and enriched company executives while harming American patients and taxpayers.  Far too often, American families are forced to choose between life-saving drugs and necessities like rent and groceries.  If we want to make a difference for patients and taxpayers, we need structural reforms, like H.R. 3, which would finally allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices like the rest of the world does.”

 

Today, AbbVie charges $77,586 for a year’s supply of Humira—470% more than when the drug launched in 2003.  AbbVie charges $181,529 for a year’s supply of Imbruvica—82% more than when the drug was launched in 2013. 

 

Below are the findings from the Committee’s investigation.

 

  • AbbVie intentionally targeted the U.S. for higher prices as it was forced to cut prices in the rest of the world.

 

  • AbbVie spent hundreds of millions of dollars on executive compensation and bonuses, including incentive payments explicitly tied to Humira revenue targets.

 

  • AbbVie predicted it would face biosimilar competition to Humira beginning in 2017, but it used a series of anticompetitive tactics, including patent settlement agreements, to delay biosimilar entry until 2023.  According to internal documents, this delay cost the U.S. healthcare system $19 billion.

 

  • AbbVie built a patent thicket around both Humira and Imbruvica.  For Humira, AbbVie has obtained or applied for over 250 patents, the last of which is set to expire in 2037.  For Imbruvica, AbbVie has obtained over 150 patents, the last of which is set to expire in 2036.

 

  • AbbVie dedicated a significant portion of its research budget to suppressing biosimilar and generic competition, including investing in a Humira “enhancements” program to protect against biosimilar competition.

 

  • The prohibition on Medicare negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices cost taxpayers billions of dollars on Humira and Imbruvica.  According to AbbVie’s internal data, taxpayers would have saved nearly $9 billion between 2010 and 2018 on Humira and Imbruvica if Medicare Part D had received the same price as programs such as the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Today’s staff report presents findings from the Committee’s review of more than 170,000 pages of internal documents, communications, and data related to Humira and Imbruvica from 2009 to the present.

 

Today’s full committee hybrid hearing with AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez and experts on pricing practices for Humira and Imbruvica will begin at 10:00 a.m. ET and can be viewed on the Committee’s website and YouTube.

 

Click here to read today’s staff report.

 

Click here to read the accompanying documents.

 

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117th Congress