House Democrat Steamrolls Big Pharma Lawyer in Heated Hearing On Lowering Drug Prices


Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) steamrolled an attorney for pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for accusing the US government of “taking their property” because the Veterans Affairs Department attempted to negotiate lower drug prices.

Khanna threw out some big numbers to prove his point during Wednesday’s hearing on “unsuitable litigation.”

He asked J&J’s Assistant General Counsel Aviva Wein several questions about one particular drug that has netted the company tens of billions in profits. She repeatedly claimed it was not something she was prepared to testify to.

“So, just to recap, you’ve got a pill for leukemia patients, you sell it for $484 per capsule, that’s $160,000 a year. You make $22 billion over that over the last 10 years, and you’re making $65 billion in profit,” Khanna said.

“Now, we have passed, as a Congress, and the president has signed a bill, saying, ‘You know what? Let Medicare negotiate to try to bring that price down.’ And you, in your department, ’cause you’re assistant general counsel, have filed a lawsuit saying that negotiation would be an ‘unjust taking.’

Khanna referred to the Fifth Amendment’s “Takings Clause” which states, “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” It’s invoked when someone accuses the US government of seizing private property without justly compensating the property owners.

“Let me ask you this,” Khanna continued. “Do you believe when the Veterans Administration negotiates for drug prices with you that that is a violation of the Takings Clause?”

“Congressman I appreciate the question,” Wein said. “The basis for our litigation against HHS with respect to the Inflation Reduction Act are fully discussed in our complaint. I’m not an expert in this area —”

Khanna cut her off.

“You’re here, you’re the assistant general counsel for a company accusing the US government of taking your property because we’re negotiating drug prices, and you can’t answer a simple question about — I’m just, a yes or a no, does the Veterans Affair’s negotiations with Johnson & Johnson constitute a taking?”

Wein continued to avoid answering Khana’s question.

Watch the clip above via C-SPAN.

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