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EpiPen CEO appears before US lawmakers to defend “sickening” price hikes

Published on 22/09/16 at 09:54am

Disgraced Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (pictured) has appeared before US lawmakers to defend the company’s now infamous and much-maligned inflation of its life-saving EpiPen.

Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Bresch asserted that the company had “never intended” for the price increases to create such controversy; prices of the EpiPen now stand at $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500% since 2007. Bresch added that she wished her company had “better anticipated the magnitude and acceleration” of rising prices for families.

Despite these increases, she also attested that the EpiPen does not generate significant profits for the company; according to Bresch, Mylan makes only $50 on each EpiPen, despite the company’s sales standing in excess of $11 billion.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep Jason Chaffetz accused the firm’s executives of adding $300 million to their paychecks over the last five years the price of allergy shot has risen; this includes Bresch herself, who has seen a 671% rise in pay over the same period as the increases in EpiPen prices, making $18 million last year alone.

“They raised the prices to get filthy rich at the expense of our constituents,” said Elijah Cummings, a Democratic representative from Maryland. “They will fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all the way to the bank while our constituents suffer, file for bankruptcy and watch their children get sicker and, in some, cases die.”

More than 3.6 million US prescriptions for EpiPen were filled last year, generating sales of almost $1.7 billion for Mylan, though the company claims it only actually receives £1.1 billion after rebates and fees.

Bresch also played up the altruistic side of Mylan’s business model, emphasising their product’s unique nature, stating “fewer than one million of the 43 million people at risk had access to an epinephrine auto-injector” before the company launched a nationwide access and awareness campaign for the product.

She even claimed that users have alternatives to EpiPen, despite Mylan owning over 90% of shares in the marketplace after paying for a no-compete to block a potential rival. “You virtually have a monopoly,” remarked Rep Gerry Connolly.

EpiPens are emergency treatment for analphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Around 1,500 die as a result of analphylaxis each year, or four every day. The syringes expire after one year.

Matt Fellows

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