Rep. Katie Porter Twitter
Rep. Katie Porter took a shot at pharmaceutical companies in a unique way on World Diabetes Day.
On Sunday, the representative for California’s 45th Congressional District called out the high cost of diabetes medication on Twitter, posting a photo of herself wearing recycled insulin vials as earrings.
“No one should have to ration life-saving medication due to price, and yet 1/4 diabetic Americans aren’t taking insulin as prescribed because of its skyrocketing cost,” she wrote. “Today, on #WorldDiabetesDay, I’m wearing earrings made from old insulin vials to keep the pressure on Big Pharma.”
Her post has since gone viral with over 32,000 likes, drawing attention to a larger issue she’s gone viral for highlighting before. In May, the lawmaker pressed AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez during an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the increased prices of Humira, an anti-inflammatory drug, and Imbruvica, a cancer drug, using her signature whiteboard to illustrate her case, The Hill reported.
In a now-viral video, Porter pointed out that AbbVie spent $2.45 billion on research and development from 2013 to 2018, but invested $4.71 billion in marketing and advertising, in addition to $334 million for executive compensation.
“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,” she said at the time.
“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,” Porter continued. “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.”
In January, the elected official released a report on how pharmaceutical mergers hinder “curb scientific innovation at the expense of patients” to turn a profit, spotlighting Amgen’s 2002 acquisition of Immunex.
“Competition is central to capitalism,” Porter said in a statement of the findings. “As our report shows, Big Pharma has little incentive to invest in new, critically needed drugs. Instead, pharmaceutical giants are free to devote their resources to acquiring smaller companies that might otherwise force them to compete. Lives are on the line; it’s clear the federal government needs to reform how it evaluates health care merges and patent abuses.”