Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Went After Big Pharma for Getting Rich off Anti-HIV Drugs. A Republican Began to Cry.

What costs $8 a month in Australia costs almost $2,000 a month in the United States.

Tom Williams / ZUMA

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a knack for getting under conservatives’ skin. She happens to also be able to make them cry.

At a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez asked Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO of the pharmaceutical company Gilead, why an HIV prevention drug costs nearly $2,000 a month in the United States but only $8 in Australia. Gilead said that the drug is still under patent protection in the US, but Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that the patent for the drug is owned by the public.

Ocasio-Cortez’s questions caused former Ted Cruz staffer Chip Roy, a Republican representative from Texas, to get visibly upset. Speaking about a medicine that he took to cure his Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Roy said private pharmaceutical companies deserve the profits they earn.

“To sit here and attack the capitalistic system that produces and distributes medicine to saving lives around the world, I mean, it is just offensive,” Roy said. Addressing Gilead, he added, “I hope you make a lot of money!”

Watch Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning and Roy’s statements below.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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