House Democrats request FTC investigate AbbVie’s pricing of Humira

Three House Democrats called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate drugmaker AbbVie for its pricing of Humira, the best-selling drug in the U.S. and internationally.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and a Judiciary Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) requested a formal inquiry into AbbVie through a letter to acting FTC Chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter.

The requested probe would examine whether the drugmaker violated the law by delaying competition against its drug Humira, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, from lower-costing versions of the drug.

“But AbbVie used legally questionable tactics to block lower-price biosimilars from reaching American consumers until at least 2023,” Maloney said. “Those tactics made AbbVie a fortune but cost Americans dearly.”

On Capitol Hill:  Maloney announced the call for the investigation at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing ahead of testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on drug pricing.

Gonzalez faced tough questions from the Oversight and Reform Committee, with Democrats accusing the company of taking advantage of patients and the health care system to charge more for medicine and bring in billions of dollars for revenue and executive bonuses.

But the CEO argued the structure of Medicare is at fault for the lack of access to affordable medicine, saying, “For these patients, reducing drug prices alone will not alleviate the challenge of access and affordability.”