Rep. Katie Porter Roasted a Pharmaceutical Exec to Oblivion With Her Whiteboard

Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

For those who have missed the rush of watching powerful men get shamed on national television for their abject greed, wait no longer: Rep. Katie Porter is back with her whiteboard of shame.

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The Democratic Congresswoman’s tendency to jot down damning numbers propelled her to viral stardom at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, when she challenged Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield to secure free covid-19 testing for all Americans, whiteboard in hand. Wednesday’s victims? The current and former CEOs of pharmaceutical giants Teva and Celgene, the latter of which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019. The companies jacked up the prices of two drugs: Teva’s Multiple Sclerosis drug Copaxone and Celgene/Bristol-Myers Squibb’s multiple myeloma drug Revlimid.

Porter grilled former Celgene CEO Mark Alles about the new cost of Revlimid. The lifesaving cancer drug cost $215 per dose in 2005. It now costs $763 per dose. Porter sought out a valid explanation for the obscene price increase, but Alles couldn’t give her one.

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Then, she went in for the kill: She wrote down $13 million on the whiteboard and asked if Alles recognized the number.

“I think you’re referring to my compensation in some way,” Alles said.

“In some way,” Porter scoffed. “This was your compensation in 2017 for being CEO of Celgene. And that’s a lot of money. It’s 200 times the average American’s income.”

And $500,000 of that income came from raising the price of Revlimid for no apparent reason other than, well, they could.

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From Stat:

When Alles tried to insist that the drug was approved for new indications, Porter pressed harder.

“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 said. “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.”

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Porter wasn’t alone: Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib also took turns flaying these pharmaceutical execs. But there’s something about Porter’s whiteboard that just lets everyone know that they’re about to witness a public murder. Entertainment options are limited in lockdown, but hey, I’ll take this.


Here comes the debate fallout: First up, Chris Wallace wishing he did more to rein in Trump during Tuesday night’s first presidential debate. He told the New York Times that it was a “terrible missed opportunity” and that he didn’t expect Trump to disregard the debate rules so badly. Hmm, who could have seen that coming? Also, he knows everyone thinks he did a shit job!

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From the New York Times:

“I’m just sad with the way last night turned out.”

“I’ve read some of the reviews. I know people think, well, gee, I didn’t jump in soon enough,” Mr. Wallace said, his voice betraying some hoarseness from the previous night’s proceedings. “I guess I didn’t realize — and there was no way you could, hindsight being 20/20 — that this was going to be the president’s strategy, not just for the beginning of the debate but the entire debate.”

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Moving on from emo Wallace to this new morsel of debate news: Last night’s shitshow was so bad that the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to set up some new ground rules.

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It’s unclear what those new changes will be as of yet, but I propose the ability to cut off someone’s mic if they keep breaking the rules. Or a catapult that will yeet Trump off the stage. Either one works for me, a humble debate viewer.


  • In more petty debate news... where do we think they should go?
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  • Senate Republicans—like Tim Scott, Kelly Loeffler, and more—are insisting that Trump didn’t mean it when he told Proud Boys to “stand by.” [Axios/Recount]
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  • Oh, and about that...
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  • The Trump campaign is like, “Brad Parscale who?” [Daily Beast]
  • Cool, cool, cool:
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  • ICE is gearing up to target sanctuary cities. [Washington Post]
  • Oh, hello
  • Fox News lawyers are arguing that viewers can’t necessarily believe what, say, Tucker Carlson says on his nightly program. Sounds normal! [NPR]
  • A man who was arrested for driving into protesters was allegedly setting up a training camp at his family’s vineyard. Nothing says fun like militia summer camp. [Mercury News]
  • So, an unofficial Joe Biden beauty blender exists?
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  • Biden got another endorsement from another Republican. [Missoulian]
  • And he’s performing well among voters who are not fuckin rich:

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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DISCUSSION

VodkaRocks&aPieceofToast

“I guess I didn’t realize — and there was no way you could, hindsight being 20/20 — that this was going to be the president’s strategy, not just for the beginning of the debate but the entire debate.”

You mean other than looking at how he behaved in the 2016 debates?

Look I dont envy Wallace’s position last night, I dont feel too bad for him but I recognize how much that job would have sucked. But to sit here today, and for all those NBC post debate anchors acting like this isn’t the exact same shit Trump pulled against Hillary Clinton and during his opponents during the Republican primary is some first class, grade A bullshit.