Health

Image Responds to EpiPen Maker's Excuses

August 25th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Allergy sufferers, patient advocates, and politicians are slamming the pharmaceutical company Mylan for the sky-rocketing prices of a life-saving allergy tool. However Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who reportedly made $19 million in 2015, said it's not her company's fault that an EpiPen set is now costs more than $600.

In an interview with CNBC, Bresch said Americans shouldn't blame her company, but rather the healthcare system as a whole.

"The patient is paying twice," Bresch said, according to CNBC. "They're paying full retail price at the counter, and they're paying higher premiums on their insurance. It was never intended that a consumer, that the patients would be paying list price, never. The system wasn't built for that."

Bresch's explanation — which doesn't address why Mylan repeatedly jacked the initial net price over the last few years — was accompanied by a chart that showed all the other sectors of the health insurance chain making money from EpiPens after the product leaves the factory.Mylan's supply chain chart.

Although the supply chain does add to the product's overall list price, it's important to note that the price of EpiPens went up before any of these sectors interacted with drug.

The chart also doesn't make explicit the fact that increased costs imposed by insurers through higher co-pays and deductibles don't actually impact the EpiPen's list price. It's actually the other way around. Insurers have had to increase co-pays and deductibles to cover the sky-rocketing list price of EpiPens.

A graphic created by MAD magazine laid out an alternate explanation of why the drug's price increased so drastically.

A joke chart slamming Mylan executives.

Along with some obviously satirical reasons, the chart suggests that pharmaceutical executives know people need life-saving drugs like EpiPens and they can force people to pay more money.

In order to counter the perception that the EpiPen price increase was driven purely by greed, Bresch announced that Mylan would be expanding an assistance program for low-income patients. A family of four making less than $97,200 would receive EpiPens for free and the company is also giving away EpiPens to thousands of schools, according to CNBC.

However, as Linette Lopes from Business Insider pointed out, these affordability efforts are likely a smokescreen that Mylan executives learned from Martin Shkreli, the embattled former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Turing, led by Shkreli who was the CEO at the time, raised the prices of a life-saving HIV drug last year by 5,000 percent from 13.50 to $750 a pill. Executives said that everything would be fine because patients would receive assistance with the out of pocket costs.

People on Twitter are horrified at Mylan's price hike and slammed Bresch, the CEO, for her excuses.

 

Bresch is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and even he seemed confused about the price hike.

"I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking, and frankly, I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs,” Manchin said in a statement on Thursday, according ot ABC News. “Today I heard Mylan's initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions."

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