California Rep. Katie Porter presented another masterclass in political interrogation.
On Wednesday, the Democratic lawmaker began trending on Twitter after she grilled a pharmaceutical CEO on his wildly high salary and the significanct price surge for Revlimid—a cancer drug commonly used to treat multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome.
Porter presented her argument during a House Oversight Committee hearing that centered on an 18-month investigation into pharmaceutical price gouging. The hearing included testimony from a number of pharma executives, including Mark Alles—the former Celgene CEO who didn't stand a chance against Porter or her whiteboard.
"Do you know what this number is?" Porter said, after writing "$13 million" on the board. "Does it ring any bells?"
Alles said he believed the representative was referring to his "compensation in some way." Bingo.
"That's a lot of money. It's 200 times the average American's income and 360 times what the average senior gets on Social Security," Porter said as she wrote the relevant figures on the board.
She went on to say that of that $13 million, $2.1 million was a bonus for the company hitting its yearly earning targets. She then suggested the massive bonus—not research and development—was the primary motive to increase in drug prices.
"Any increase in the price Revlimid would also increase your bonus by increasing prices. Isn't that right, Mr. Alles?" she said. "The Oversight Committee found that if you hadn't increased the price of Revlimid, you wouldn't had gotten your bonus."
She wasn't done. Porter then pointed out that Alles had personally received about half a million dollars in bonuses for tripling the price of the drug from 2005.
"Just 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," she said. "You just refined your skills at price gouging."
Twitter users couldn't get enough of Porter's performance. You can check out some of the reactions below.