United States Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has written a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject the proposed $465 million settlement reached between the government and Mylan, Inc. after it was discovered the beleaguered corporation, responsible for increasing the price of the life-saving EpiPen to $600 per 2-pak in August of this year, had been wrongly classifying its name brand drug as “generic” in order to save themselves money by paying a smaller percentage to Medicare and Medicaid, thereby resulting in gross underpayments to the federally funded programs. Blumenthal has been particularly vocal about the company since the questionable price hike and is now calling the settlement a “shadow of what it should be.”
He also expressed his frustration over the fact Mylan was able to settle without having to admit to any wrongdoing; something he finds troubling and unfair to those affected by Mylan’s actions. In his letter, he wrote the agreement “short circuits an investigation and fact finding necessary to determine the scope of illegality, culpability of individuals, and proof of criminal wrongdoing. Simply, this agreement is blatantly inadequate, notably in dollar amount, but also Mylan’s avoiding admission of moral and legal responsibility,” further stating, “DOJ must fulfill its responsibility to fully and fairly investigate the facts, establish intent, and punish wrongdoing to deter present and future bad actors.”
Blumenthal is also pushing for the DOJ to work alongside state authorities with regard to reaching any future agreements with the company, which has continued to face well-deserved criticism and outrage. The American public, most notably those who require EpiPens either for themselves or their children, has been unsympathetic toward Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who saw her yearly salary jump from to $2 million to almost $20 million as a result of the price increase. Bresch continues to maintain the company makes little profit from the sale of the drug, doing her best to try and justify her unjustifiable reasoning for the hike.
The fact the company is not required to admit to any misconduct makes the settlement that much more infuriating, as countless people have suffered tremendous financial strain in order to ensure the safety of their children and themselves with the injector that holds $1 worth of epinephrine. Blumenthal wrote, “The American people have been rightly outraged by Mylan’s apparent profiteering and price gouging and possible fraud.”
Blumenthal sent the letter with fellow Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), all three of whom believe an investigation should be opened to determine if Mylan willfully broke the law by knowingly misclassifying the EpiPen as generic. It would be hard to wonder otherwise, considering there is no generic version of the drug on the market, and Mylan has recently stated they would seen release their own generic version for a cost of $300; still far too expensive for the average citizen, especially considering the name brand version cost $100 per 2-pak in 2007.
It is estimated it has cost taxpayers over $700 million for Mylan’s “mistake,” yet the company is only responsible for paying $465 million. As stated by Blumenthal, “Mylan also plans to include this $465 million as a “pre-tax charge” in its upcoming quarterly filings, thereby getting a tax break for repaying overcharges to federal and state taxpayers. Taxpayers become losers several times over.” The letter concludes, “I urge you to explore any possible opportunity for investigation and encourage you to work with state authorities in pursuing remedies that adequately compensate harm done to state taxpayers. I stand ready to support and assist such efforts.”