Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) went viral this week after grilling former Celgene CEO Mark Alles over his compensation and the price of cancer drug Revlimid during a committee hearing.

Using her now-signature whiteboard board, Porter pointed out that the price of the drug, which is approved to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, has spiked from $412 per pill in 2005 to $763 per pill today. 

“I’m curious, did the drug get substantially more effective in that time? Did cancer patients need fewer pills?” Porter asked, after writing the price increases on a white board. 

The former CEO told the lawmaker that the manufacturing for the pill “would be the same” between 2005 and today.

“Did the drug start to work faster? Were there fewer side effects? How did you change the formula or production of Revlimid to justify this price increase?” Porter asked.

She also grilled Alles on his compensation and bonuses tied to the drug.

Porter noted that Alles was paid $13 million in 2017, which she said is “360 times what the average senior gets on Social Security.” She added that Alles received millions in bonuses tied to increases for the company and that he received $500,000 in bonuses due to the price increase for Revlimid.

“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,” Porter continued.

Porter and Alles’s exchange immediately went viral across social media.

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Wednesday’s hearing

  • Rep. Katie Porter tore into Celgene CEO Mark Alles on Wednesday over price hikes on a cancer drug.
  • Porter grilled the CEOs of Teva, Celgene, and Bristol Myers Squibb as part of a House investigation into the pricing of Teva’s multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone and Bristol Myers Squibb’s multiple-myeloma drug Revlimid.
  • During a Wednesday congressional hearing, Porter, a former consumer-protection attorney, used a whiteboard to illustrate points such as how much money the CEO made, how much a single pill of Revlimid cost over the years, and how much his bonus was as a result.
  • Alles confirmed that the manufacturing for the drug remained the same amid price increases but said the drug was approved for new uses.
  • “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,” Porter replied.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Katie Porter of California grilled Celgene CEO Mark Alles on Wednesday over price hikes on a cancer drug that she said resulted in a bonus of half a million dollars for the pharma executive.

Alles appeared before the House oversight committee alongside the CEOs of Teva and Bristol Myers Squibb as part of a House investigation into the pricing of Teva’s multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone and Bristol Myers Squibb’s multiple-myeloma drug Revlimid. Alles served as CEO of Celgene before it was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2019.

“Since launching Revlimid in 2005, Celgene raised the price of the drug 22 times, from $215 per pill to $719 per pill,” according to documents from the House oversight committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “After Bristol Myers Squibb obtained the rights to Revlimid last November, it raised the price of Revlimid again, to $763



a close up of a person talking on a cell phone: U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks at a campaign town hall meeting with Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in Mason City, Iowa, U.S., January 11, 2020. Brian Snyder/Reuters


© Brian Snyder/Reuters
U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks at a campaign town hall meeting with Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in Mason City, Iowa, U.S., January 11, 2020. Brian Snyder/Reuters

  • Rep. Katie Porter tore into Celgene CEO Mark Alles over price hikes on a cancer drug, during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
  • Porter, alongside freshman congresswomen Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, grilled the CEOs of Teva, Celgene, and Bristol-Myers Squibb as part of a House Oversight Committee investigation into the pricing of Teva’s Multiple Sclerosis drug Copaxone and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s multiple myeloma drug Revlimid. 
  • During the congressional hearing, Porter, a former consumer protection attorney, tore into Alles, writing key figures in her questions — such as how much the CEO makes, how much a single pill of Revlimid cost over the years, and how much his bonus was as a result — on a whiteboard to a striking effect.
  • “Did the drug start to work faster? Were there fewer side effects? How did you change the formula or production of Revlimid to justify this price increase?” Porter asked.
  • Alles confirmed that the manufacturing for the drug remained the same but said the drug was approved for new indications.
  • “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,” Porter replied.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Katie Porter grilled Celgene CEO Mark Alles Wednesday over price hikes on a cancer drug, which she said resulted in a half-million bonus for the pharma executive.

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Alles appeared before the House Oversight Committee alongside the CEOs of Teva and Bristol-Myers Squibb as part of a House investigation into the