Just last week, Mylan Inc. decided it was a good idea to raise the price of the life-saving EpiPen, which is used to stop a person from going into anaphylactic shock after experiencing an allergic reaction. Life-threatening allergies are on the rise and millions of people rely on the EpiPen to maintain their quality of life, taking comfort in the fact they are prepared for the worst during an unexpected emergency. The types of allergies that require the use of an EpiPen do not discriminate. They don’t pick and choose the people they know can afford the necessary medicine because they don’t care about anyone’s socio-economic status. Rather, they strike at random. This shouldn’t be an issue. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) deserves the right to affordable healthcare; no one deserves to die because they couldn’t afford the treatment for a condition they weren’t even consulted about in the first place. No one chooses to be allergic to bee stings, peanuts, shellfish or anything else for that matter. Why would they? Which begs the question: Why does Big Pharma get to choose who lives or dies?
Over the past several years, the price of the EpiPen has increased sixfold. On average, the price of two “pens” is now over $600. The cost of the medicine contained within the injector? One dollar. How does this make sense? I suppose if we’re looking at it from a business sense, Mylan Inc. is making out like bandits, preying on the needy like the vultures they are as they cackle like witches all the way to the bank. The problem is, the health and welfare of our society is not, and should not, be considered “big business.” Where did we go so wrong?
Just like “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of the vital, parasitic-fighting drug Daraprim (used to treat people afflicted with HIV/AIDS) by 4,000% from $18 to $750 in an effort to make himself more money, CEO of Mylan Inc. Heather Bresch doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong. Why would she? In doing so, her salary jumped from a measly couple million to $19 million per year. It doesn’t hurt that her dad is a U.S. Senator.
There has been talk of a more cost-effective, generic brand of the EpiPen soon to be released, which seems to have fueled Ms. Bresch’s desire to not only increase costs, but to also try so desperately to secure supplies of the trademarked EpiPen in public schools. I mean, how dare anyone encroach on her territory of helping “save lives,” right? Bless her heart.
EpiPens expire, which means at the start of the new school year, parents of children with life-threatening allergies must purchase new packs that will last until summer vacation rolls back around. These “packs” are only sold in sets of two and most parents must purchase at least two (per child). In many cases, even with insurance, this totals over $1200. But what about the parents who have more than one child with allergies? How are they supposed to afford this? And why are any of these parents being punished? Apparently, the bigoted, privileged “all lives matter” club is as exclusive and elusive as the Hope Diamond.
I have a friend whose two children both suffer from the types of allergies that require an epinephrine shot should they be exposed to their offenders. Both successful and gainfully employed, she and her husband had to pay $2,000 out-of-pocket to protect the lives of their kids. It’s an amount that, understandably, is more than they (or the majority of Americans) can afford. They found a way to pay it anyway because, as I’m sure, the lives of their children mean much more to them than all the money in the world.
This isn’t right.
When the pharmaceutical industry mimics the greediest of the greedy, we need to stand up and shout. The media has no business reporting on the effects of society “bleeding taxpayers dry” when they seek the precious care they deserve as human beings (that they otherwise couldn’t afford) via ER visits for a cold, flu or other such ailments better addressed by a primary care physician, especially when hospitals can’t even offer a single Tylenol without charging $50 for it.
I hate to break it to you Ms. Bresch, but money can only buy happiness up to a certain point ($75,000 per year, to be exact.) Is that $19 million really worth taking our collective health for granted? If you believe it is, I feel sorry for you because once we’re gone, who’s left?
A big ole’ house and a fancy wardrobe can only get you so far and he or she who dies with the most toys never really wins.