EpiPen maker met with bipartisan outrage over 500% price hike
Sep 22 2016 by Johnny Bowman
The price of an EpiPen two-pack has risen from about $100 in 2009 to around $600 today, according to medical literature and various pharmacies across the nation.
Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan: Mylan we acquired this product and realized the complete lack of awareness and access to the product and the fact that public places, let's take schools... that if a child at a school or on a playground were to go in and have a severe allergic reaction, go into anaphylaxis, and if that child didn't have a prescription in their name at that school, the school couldn't use it.
At the hearing, the panel's top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, demanded that Bresch apologize even as he predicted that nothing would change after the hearing, and called for legislation.
Earlier this year, Martin Shkreli, a former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, enraged the committee by refusing to say why he raised the price of a decades-old drug more than fiftyfold.
Chaffetz said Bresch's claims of limited profits were "a little hard to believe". Bresch says the company makes only $50 in profit on each EpiPen. After costs - including giving almost 700,000 free EpiPens to schools - the company makes only $50 on each injector, she said.
Although Bresch received the brunt of Congress' frustration over the rising EpiPen costs during Wednesday's hearing, lawmakers also placed blame on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for not acting quickly enough to make sure that competitors to the EpiPen were approved for sale. Republicans and Democrats have said families struggling to pay for the emergency allergy shots have every right to be outraged by Mylan, a company whose sales are in excess of $11 billion.
"My only concern and motivation, was, and always will be, how we can protect as many children as possible", she added.
"In the more than 8 years we have owned the EpiPen product, we have worked diligently and invested to enhance the product and make it more available", she said in her testimony.
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The EpiPen is an automatic injector created to treat life-threatening allergic reactions to anything from nuts to bee stings, delivering a dose of epinephrine through a quick jab in the thigh.
"We listened and focused on this issue and came up with a sustainable solution", Bresch said. That requires investment, Ms Bresch said.
Committee chair Jason Chaffetz also noted that Mylan will now off a generic version of the device for hundreds of dollars less than the EpiPen.
"Our goal is to work together to ensure that critical medications, like the EpiPen, are accessible and affordable for all of our constituents", Chaffetz and Cummings said in a joint statement last week.
Some lawmakers weren't buying her explanation and used the CEO's $19 million salary as a point of reference. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. But lawmakers so far haven't given any deference to her because she is related to a colleague. Several other committees also have called for investigations into the matter.
The company has gone on the defensive, offering patients additional assistance with out-of-pocket costs and announcing that it would begin selling a generic version of the product at half of the cost. Before rebates, EpiPen costs for Medicare Part D increased more than 1,000 percent between 2007 and 2014, from $7 million to $87.9 million, the report said.
With a brief chance to state her case before the questioning portion of the hearing got underway, Bresch described her small town upbringing in West Virginia as she attempted to justify the company's practices.
The letter was signed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), John Cornyn (Texas), John Thune (S.D.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Patrick Toomey (Pa.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).