“We’ve Lost Our Soul,” “It Felt Like Death By a Thousand Cuts”: Rep. Porter Report Details the Devastation of Pharma Mergers
Congresswoman’s report demonstrates how Big Pharma takeovers destroy innovation, harm patients; report includes exclusive interviews with former Immunex, and later Amgen, employees
Washington, January 29, 2021
Tags: Protecting Consumers , Health Care
Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today released a report documenting the devastating effects of Big Pharma’s mergers and acquisitions. It includes a case study of the 2002 takeover of Immunex, a small biotechnology firm, by Amgen, which at the time was the largest biotechnology company in the world. Through first-hand accounts, the report highlights how such consolidations curb scientific innovation at the expense of patients.
“What we learned from the Immunex/Amgen researchers we spoke with was deeply upsetting: this incredible collaborative culture, focused on innovative new ideas to treat chronically ill patients, was completely gutted. Research that could have led to new treatments or cures was dropped because it was too risky, and therefore, too ‘expensive,’” Porter said. “The statistics from researchers show a similar story, but hearing this from scientists on the ground helps people understand what’s going on. That’s why we wanted to present this as a staff report for the public.”
“Competition is central to capitalism,” Porter continued. “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.”
During Porter’s questioning in an October 2020 Oversight Committee hearing, the current CEO of Amgen, Robert Bradway, downplayed the role of small firm Immunex in the development of Enbrel, a lifesaving drug. This depiction prompted a former Immunex, and later Amgen, Principal Scientist to contact Porter’s office to provide clarification on Bradway’s testimony and the transformation he watched the company undergo after the acquisition. Porter’s office proceeded to interview the scientist, Laurent Galibert, and several other former employees of Immunex/Amgen.
The report’s key findings include:
The report makes clear the need for comprehensive, urgent reform. Congresswoman Porter specifically recommends:
Congresswoman Porter has been a tireless advocate for getting Americans the healthcare they need. In addition to introducing House-passed legislation that would protect patients from unnecessary pharmaceutical price hikes, she has confronted Big Pharma CEOs directly about the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. She also backed the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019, which included her amendment to prohibit administrative actions that would strip patients of comprehensive care.
Read the full report HERE.