Over the last four years or so, the price of Mylan’s Epipen has skyrocketed by 461 percent — the retail price is now $600 and wholesale is $300 — which most feel is outrageous considering it costs about $10 or less to make one. A generic dose of epinephrine (the medicine inside the Epipen) costs about $1, so additional material costs for each would include the plastic tube with a retractable syringe. Yes, that’s what they feel justifies charging $600. Most people didn’t really know how much it cost since they are used to getting it through a co-payment on the drug coverage of their insurance plan.
But the actual price started to make its way into the public eye recently, and people are up in arms about the price gouging Mylan has been enjoying. When CNBC’s SquawkBox recently interviewed Heather Bresch, Mylan’s CEO, she hemmed and hawed through a number of nonsense excuses about why it wasn’t their fault or responsibility. She blamed the healthcare industry, then the insurance companies, and then Congress, and the finger pointing continued as she claimed the U.S. prices for the life-saving items were so high because the U.S. was subsidizing Canada’s use of the Epipens, selling them for a mere $100 each north of the border.
The problem with all the excuses and finger pointing is as often is the case, one finger points outward and four point back at the person making excuses. Costs of healthcare are rising – why, because of big drug companies like Mylan feeling they should charge outrageous fees for their products because they know people must have them. Insurance rates are high because … duh, health care costs are high pushing the cost of insurance ever higher.
The Congressional excuse is probably the real kicker. Bresch said: “Congress and the leaders of this country need to stop putting their toe in [health care system reform] and fix the outdated, inefficient system.” The point she never makes is that Bresch is the leader of one of the most influential lobbies – the Generic Pharmaceutical Association – that works in that area. She is also Senator Joe Manchin’s daughter. Bresch is uniquely placed to do exactly what she says should be done. But, of course, she hasn’t done any of that – why would she? She raked in over $50 million over the last three years for her efforts on behalf of Mylan.
Bresch tried to limp her way through that interview without preparation, but it’s hard to justify what appears to be unjustifiable behavior. She still could have been better prepared, though, instead of trying to keep shifting blame with nonsense excuses.. Does she really think the public is that gullible and that she’s never going to have to face the consequences of her greed, and of Mylan’s? Time will tell, but people are not likely to forget quickly the actions of this company. Competitors should be jumping into the fray any minute to pick up the slack at a much more reasonable price. Karma can be a mean Bresch.