WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three patients will share their personal experiences with the high prices of prescription drugs sold by pharmaceutical giant AbbVie today before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The patient advocates will share their stories via recorded video during today’s hearing, “Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez,” held by the committee to examine AbbVie’s drug pricing behaviors.
“AbbVie has done everything in its power to keep raising prices on its blockbuster drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Now Katherine, Jacqueline, and Lynn will tell Congress exactly the harm those high prices have caused to patients like them. It is time pharmaceutical companies including AbbVie are held to account for their abusive behaviors, and reforms are enacted to stop them.”
Watch the patient advocates’ stories at the hearing here starting at 10:00 AM ET today. Below are some highlights of their stories:
- Katherine Pepper, from Bellingham, Washington, is diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. She struggles to afford the Humira she is prescribed — the drug is priced at $5,900 for a pack of two pens. “The excessive Humira price forces me to choose every month whether to eat or fill my prescriptions,” she will tell the committee. “I urge you to consider patients like myself as you take action to lower the drug prices.”
- Jacqueline Garibay, from Austin, Texas, lives with ankylosing spondylitis. As a college student, she has to plan her future around her ability to afford her prescription drugs. Garibay was also prescribed Humira, priced at almost $6,000 for a month’s supply. “My dreams and my independence are threatened by having to constantly worry about affording my medication,” Garibay will explain. “I hope you will remember the millions of young people with chronic conditions who are facing a lifetime of daunting and ever-increasing treatment prices at the hands of companies like AbbVie.”
- Lynn Scarfuto, from Herkimer, New York, is a cancer patient who is prescribed the oral chemotherapy, Imbruvica, which is priced at $13,000 per month. She is worried that she will soon lose the ability to afford her prescription. “Instead of enjoying my retirement and focusing on my health, I carry around the overwhelming burden of Imbruvica’s price tag,” Scarfuto will say to the committee. “You have the power to change that by reining in the greed of the drug companies.”
AbbVie manufactures the blockbuster drugs Humira and Imbruvica. Humira, which treats many inflammatory conditions, is the world’s top-selling drug. AbbVie has increased the price of Humira 27 times since 2003 to more than $77,000 each year. Imbruvica, which treats cancer, is priced at more than $181,000 per year and has gone up in price nine times since its launch in 2013.
AbbVie has a history of taking out many unnecessary patents on a singular drug in order to maintain market exclusivity longer to keep prices high — Humira is a prime example with 247 patent applications. AbbVie has been granted 88 patents for Imbruvica, which extends its commercial exclusivity to 29 years. It is expected that American patients will spend at least $41 billion on Imbruvica during the extra nine years of its monopoly.
The hearing, “Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez,” chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, will examine the pricing and business practices of AbbVie. The hearing begins today at 10:00 AM ET and can be viewed here. Copies of the patients’ video and written stories are available upon request.