Poor Heather Bresch. She just can’t seem to escape the public’s continued outrage over her decision as Mylan’s Big Pharma CEO to increase the price of the life-saving EpiPen in order to line her already custom couture pockets. On Wednesday, September 21, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called Ms. Bresch to testify regarding why she made the choice to increase the price of the invaluable allergy medicine from $100 per two-pack in 2007 to $600 for a pair in August, 2016. As expected, she provided a litany of excuses, none of which indicated she held herself responsible in the least, despite her salary jumping from $2.5 million to almost $20 million per year as a result. She made attempts to explain to lawmakers the complex nature of the pharmaceutical industry and how health insurance providers and other interested parties receive percentages of prescription drug sales, which in turn, left her no other choice. Her wholly irrational justifications didn’t go over well, with several members of the Committee deeming her actions “sickening,” “disgusting,” and “blatantly disrespectful” to the countless American families who continue to be affected by the price hike. Many parents have stated they are no longer able to afford the medication they desperately need to ensure the health and safety of their children. The same goes for everyday average citizens with life-threatening allergies who rely on the EpiPen to save their lives in an emergency. As I’ve stated before, the amount of epinephrine contained within the injector is worth one dollar. I’m with the lawmakers; Bresch’s motives and actions are just plain sick.
Athenahealth, a cloud-based company that specializes in healthcare, recently released data indicating 70 percent of EpiPen prescriptions are written for people under the age of 18, which typically means purchases of the drug spike in August before the school year resumes after summer vacation. According to their figures, recommendations for the drug in the first three weeks of August 2016 increased by 32 percent since last year, which further equates to 21 percent of all EpiPen scripts written in the country, as opposed to just 17 percent in 2015. When speaking about the recently inflated costs, Josh Gray, who is the vice president of research for Athenahealth, said, “As the prices have increased, the demand has increased as well, which is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to see given the laws of price and demand…This is not an area where parents want to cut corners for their kids, or adults for themselves. In this moment of decision, physicians are not going to be particularly price sensitive… they’re going to keep their patients just as safe as they can.” For Mylan, this is good news, as they currently have the market cornered, with no generic version of the drug available to compete with. They have, however, announced they will soon release a generic version of their own EpiPen, which will only cost $300 per pair. Only?
Janet Friscia, whose 9-year-old daughter requires an EpiPen for her life-threatening allergies, has expressed her anger over the fact she has to spend more than she has out-of-pocket in order to know her child is safe both in her care and out, stating she typically purchases at least four EpiPens at a time: one to keep in her purse at all times, one to keep in her daughter’s school backpack, one for the school she attends, and one for their home. She stated by the year 2017, she will likely have to spend upwards of $2,000 to safeguard her daughter’s life. She also spoke about having taken her children to visit their previous daycare center where she learned there was a child who suffered from a severe allergy to eggs, but whose parents could not afford to provide the center with an EpiPen. Just imagine what those parents must go through every day knowing they could potentially receive a phone call telling them their child has died because she didn’t have access to an epinephrine shot. Speaking about the exchange, Friscia said, “A child could be on the floor, not able to breathe, in a matter of seconds, because someone can’t afford the $600.” She went on to say Mylan has “a monopoly on the market and they are price-gouging and people could die from this because parents have to make this awful choice on whether they can buy the drug. They’ve got people by the throat, because they have no other choice.” Elijah Cummings, a Democratic United States Representative echoed Ms. Friscia’s statements when he said the company and Bresch couldn’t care less about the effect the increase has had on the general public because “After Mylan takes our punches they’ll fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all the way to the bank.”
I just want to know how, Ms. Bresch, with children of your own, you are possibly able to sleep at night?