Mylan CEO defends EpiPen price spike
Heather Bresch , the chief executive officer of Mylan, faced significant criticism from members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Sept. 21 where she discussed the 500% price increase for EpiPen Auto-Injector devices since 2007.
In opening remarks, Rep. Jason E. Chaffetz (R-Utah) noted that anaphylaxis causes more than four deaths per day or 1,500 deaths annually and that people with severe allergies need a device like the EpiPen. However, he claimed the medication within the EpiPen costs $1, while Mylan is selling it for $600.
“There is some room for some profit,” Chaffetz said.
“Yet another drug company, Mylan, has jacked up the price of a lifesaving product for no discernible reason,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), said at the hearing. He claimed Mylan raised the prices to get “filthy rich at the expense of our constituents.”
“It troubles me greatly that the EpiPen product has become a source of controversy,” Bresch said. She said the issue surrounding EpiPen is complex as price and access are both equally critical dimensions. “With the current focus on pricing, I am concerned that the access part of the equation is being minimized,” Bresch said.
Since 2007, when Mylan acquired EpiPen Auto-Injectors, the company has invested more than $1 billion to enhance the product and its shelf-life, as well as make it more accessible to patients, according to Bresch.
“I know there is considerable concern and skepticism about the pricing of EpiPen Auto-Injectors. I think many people incorrectly assume we make $600 off each EpiPen. This is simply not true,” she said, explaining that Mylan makes a profit of approximately $50 per pen. However, Chaffetz and Cummings disputed Bresch’s depiction of revenue from the EpiPen.
Bresch pointed out that Mylan has created the first generic version of EpiPen to be priced at $300, half the cost of the brand name.
“This unprecedented move is the fastest and most direct way to reduce the price for all patients,” she said.
Chaffetz countered, “the only thing you changed was the name” for the generic version. The product is the same; therefore, Mylan would make a sizable profit from the name “EpiPen,” he argued.
Cummings also accused Mylan of taking advantage of the lack of alternatives to the EpiPen in its price hikes, suggesting the company had employed a “corrupt” pharmaceutical company strategy to “find an old cheap drug that has virtually no competition and raise the price over and over and over again as high as you can.”
Bresch acknowledged that Mylan did not fully appreciate how the pricing increases would affect consumers.
“Looking back, I wish we had better anticipated the magnitude and acceleration of the rising financial issues for a growing minority of patients who may have ended up paying the full [wholesale acquisition cost] WAC price or more,” Bresch said.
“You never anticipated it?” Chaffetz questioned Bresch. “You raised the price. What did you think was going to happen?”
“We never intended this. We listened and focused on this issue and came up with a sustainable solution,” Bresch said in her closing remark. – by Alaina Tedesco
Testimony of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Accessed Sept. 21, 2017. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3111521/2016-09-21-Bresch-Testimony.pdf