May 24, 2021

Hearing Exposes Greed of Drug Corporation AbbVie

According to a study released on May 18 by the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, the pharmaceutical corporation AbbVie has raised prices 470% in the United States for its widely used drugs Humira and Imbruvica over the past two decades. The price increases boosted the corporation’s revenue by billions of dollars and AbbVie’s executives received hefty bonuses during that time.

The committee examined more than 170,000 internal documents and conversations connected to the drugs from the last 18 years. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (NY) issued a subpoena for the documents after AbbVie declined to cooperate with the Committee’s request.

Humira, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune diseases and gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s, was released in 2003 when the company was Abbott Laboratories. An annual supply of the drug costs about $77,000, the report said.

Meanwhile AbbVie, working with Janssen Biotech, has also increased the price of Imbruvica, a drug used to treat mantle cell lymphoma and other cancers, by 82 percent since it launched in 2013. That year, for a patient taking three pills per day, the drug was priced at $99,776 annually.

Today, it’s priced at $181,529. For patients taking four pills each day, it costs more than $242,000.

The list price for Humira outside the U.S. is much lower. In 2015, the cost for a 40-milligram syringe of the drug was $1,727 here, while the price range was between about $400 and $970 in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

In addition to increasing the cost of the drug in the U.S., the Oversight Committee found that AbbVie “engaged in a series of anticompetitive strategies to block lower-priced biosimilar versions of Humira from entering the U.S. market.”

“We knew that the pharmaceutical corporations are raking in huge profits. But the level of greed displayed by AbbVie at the House hearing this week was still shocking,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “Congress needs to take action to control the exponentially increasing prices of drugs by passing H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act.”

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