Katie Porter looks like a mom. But this single mother of three has a razor-sharp mind. California’s Democratic representative graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School and has taught law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, according to Porter’s representative’s page She is also deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an expert consumer finance expert. Her videos of nailing CEOs to her whiteboard go viral.
The California representative questioned giant pharmaceutical company AbbVie’s CEO Richard Gonzalez during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. She was specifically interested in why he inflated drug prices:
‘Mr. Gonzalez, how much did AbbVie spend on litigation and settlements from 2013 to 2018?’
Clearly, he was underestimating her when he said:
‘I don’t have that number offhand. We’d be happy to give it to you.’
With her magic whiteboard, Porter started applying colored circles as visual aides to represent how the drug behemoth spent its dollars. Rather than let her embarrass him, Gonzales said:
‘OK, $1.6 billion.’
His ploy backfired. She said the company had spent:
‘[$2.45 billion on]’ research and development [alone.]’
He agreed with the brilliant representative that AbbVie did, indeed, spend $4.71 billion on “marketing and advertising.” In fact, he said from 2013 through 2018 his organization spent a total of $60 million per year on executive compensation.
Porter was droll:
‘Try $334 [million] on for size.’ How much did AbbVie spend on stock buybacks and dividends to enrich your shareholders from 2013 to 2018?’
Gonzales answered her:
‘[Our stock buybacks equaled] around $13 billion.’
The CEO said that he did not have the exact numbers the company spent on shareholders’ profits. But the intrepid Democrat put a big circle up that nearly colored out the entire board and said:
‘[It was] $50 billion. So, Mr. Gonzalez, you’re spending all this money to make sure you make money rather than spending money to invest in, develop drugs and help patients with affordable, life-saving drugs.’
‘You lie to patients when you charge them twice as much for an unimproved drug and then you lie to policymakers when you tell us that R&D justifies those price increases. The Big Pharma fairy tale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices. But the Pharma reality is that you spend most of your company’s money-making money for yourself and your shareholders.’
‘And the fact that you’re not honest about this with patients and with policymakers, that you’re feeding us lies that we must pay astronomical prices to get ‘innovative treatments’ is false.’
‘The American people, the patients, deserve so much better.’
House Democrats have called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate AbbVie for its pricing of Humira. Its best-selling drug both here and abroad treats rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Watch her in action with Gonzalez:
‘Using her signature white board, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter laid into AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday about the disproportionate amount of money his company actually spends on improving pharmaceutical drugs Humira and Imbruvica.’
Using her signature white board, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter laid into AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday about the disproportionate amount of money his company actually spends on improving pharmaceutical drugs Humira and Imbruvica. pic.twitter.com/whW4vqPF5x
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 19, 2021
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