The EpiPen boss tried to defend price hikes to Congress. No one bought it
I recently blogged about Mylan's price-gouging on EpiPens and several investigations into Mylan that came as a result of the public outrage. Well, it sounds like the congressional hearing didn't go so well for Mylan's CEO.
She began her defense by asserting her company’s right to make a profit, which is not in dispute. She is resolute that Mylan is elegantly threading a needle of corporate responsibility, saying: “Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance.”I’m not sure the American families reliant on the EpiPen feel that way. After the news of EpiPen’s price inflation hit last month, many parents shared their families’ stories of straining to meet the growing cost of their child’s essential medication. Some said that they send their children to school with expired syringes, hoping that the medication is still effective, a practice one parent compared to playing “Russian roulette” with her child’s health. Others told of making the difficult decision about whether to pay the mortgage or for their child’s EpiPen. Mylan’s version of “balance” has nearly knocked many families off their feet.
Balance, my ass. How is it balance when just a few years ago, the pens cost a sixth of what they cost now? It's not balance when they're taking advantage of their monopoly and raping American families for every penny they can get out of them.
Bresch went on to suggest that her company, which has full discretion and autonomy to make any pricing decision it wants, is raising the cost of EpiPens because of forces out of its control. “The irony is the system incentivizes high prices,” she said, blaming insurance companies and drug benefit managers. This is a bogus defense, considering drug price hikes like the ones she has presided over are very much part of the equation that raises the costs in the entire health sector for consumers.For instance, even if the point-of-purchase price is subsidized by insurance providers, those companies do not simply eat the cost in an act of charity. They pass it on to consumers in the form of higher premiums or copays. Bresch can throw up her hands if she wants, but actions like hers are exactly what makes the American healthcare system so distorted.
How original. Let's blame Obamacare, basically. I am getting so tired of that accusation. It has basically given the health industry a wild card that they can play at any time. They do whatever they want and then say, "But Obamacare!!!" and meanwhile they're making money hand over fist.
Mylan, of course, claims they're not making that much on the EpiPen, "only" about $50 on each $300 syringe. If so, though, they are evidently using a product that many people can't live without to make up for people's reluctance to pay for other products:
Mylan produces hundreds of products, but EpiPen drives a full 10% of the company’s profits.
And of course none of this addresses the obscene inflation of Bresch's salary over the past few years. I wonder if they're taking that into account in the "cost" of producing the EpiPen?
I hope the investigations into Mylan's practices lead to some serious reform of our health industry!