Pharma CEO squirms as Katie Porter exposes his price-gouging scheme with her trusty whiteboard
via Katie Porter

Americans spend about $1,200 a year on average for prescription drugs. That's more than anywhere else in the world. Private insurers and government programs pick up the bulk of the costs which we then pay through higher taxes and insurance premiums.

A major reason why Americans pay so much more than other countries is that the U.S government isn't allowed to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

To better understand the underlying reasons for these astronomical prices, the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee held hearings on Wednesday with current and former executives of three major drug companies.


Democratic Representative Katie Porter from Orange County, California proved to be the star of the hearing for how she clearly explained how price gouging works using a whiteboard and the testimony of former Celgene CEO Mark Alles.

via Revlimid

Celgene launched a cancer drug called Revlimid in 2005 at a price of $215 per pill. After more than 20 price hikes, the drug now costs $763 per pill or $16,023 per month. According to Porter, the price increases have cost American taxpayers over $3 billion.

While drug companies commonly cite research and development costs as a reason for raising prices. An investigation found that the CEO repeatedly raised the price to help the company meet revenue goals.

The investigation also found the company was profiting from a drug that was developed using taxpayer funds. According to the investigation the company "relied heavily on taxpayer-funded academic research to develop Revlimid, and its internal pricing decisions appear to have been unrelated to past or future investment in research and development."

Rep. Porter grills Big Pharma CEO for price gouging www.youtube.com

Porter opened her questioning by remarking how Revlimid price increases seem to counter traditional economic logic.

"I'm curious, did the drug get substantially more effective in that time? Did cancer patients need fewer pills?" she asked. "How did you change the formula for the production of Revlimid to justify this price increase?"

Alles responded with a non-answer: "The indication changes are for subsets of different patients with disease."

She then pushed him again, asking how the drug improved over the past seven years.

He admitted that the manufacturing for the pill was "the same."

Porter then brilliantly related the price increase to the financial situation of her constituents. "So, to put that in perspective, you hiked the price by $500 when the average Orange County senior only has $528 left in their bank account after they've paid their basic monthly expenses," Porter said.

While the CEO claimed that no one pays the list price, she asked about uninsured people. He said he could "imagine" that there were uninsured or underinsured people who have probably paid the list price.

via Katie Porter

Porter finished her presentation by tying the price increases to Alles' paycheck. As CEO, Alles made $13 million a year, 360 times the average person on social security.

"Any increase in the price of Revlimid would also increase your bonus by increasing earnings. Isn't that right Mr. Alles? she asked. "That was a part of the calculation of my compensation." the CEO agreed.

Porter then showed how the CEO has made $500,000 over the past two years in bonuses by raising the price of the cancer drug.

"So 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!" she stated.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

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Package Free Shop

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