This just isn’t right!
Are Drug Price Increases Always Appropriate?
You might agree this is a huge question with many facets.
On one hand, Americans desire to have access to the latest drugs, therapies, and treatments. We recognize that there is a cost associated with bringing new technologies to market and accept it.
In the specific case of medications, we generally understand that for a pharmaceutical company to deliver a new and better drug to market, they must invest in many initially promising studies, and many of them eventually fail. The costs of these “failed” initiatives must be borne by the overall financials of the company, meaning we pay more for a specific medication than it might actually cost.
Most people understand this and recognize that if we want new drugs, therapies, and innovative technologies, we accept the cost.
Now, on the other hand, there are many other examples of extremely high drug costs that are so egregious, they must be stopped and some folks should be held accountable. If not, this will continue to go on without interruption. The public is simply unaware of much of this until it’s very late in the game.
Here is an example that many of us have read about. But you may not know the whole story.
Most of us know that Mylan Pharmaceutical has been in the press for increasing the cost of their EpiPen from $57 in 2007 to over $608 for a double pack in 2016, a 550% increase. We probably all agree, this in itself seems criminal. Particularly when we know that the underlying medication, Epinephrine, has been around for many years and there was no significant “investment” that took place that needs to be recovered to create the EpiPen. (On a side note here, the annual compensation for Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, went from $2,453,456 in 2007 to $18,931,068 in 2015, an increase of over 750%).
Now, here is what you may not know and what makes this even more disturbing.
Prior to being the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch (who happens to be the daughter of US Senator Joe Manchin III), worked as Mylan’s chief lobbyist.
Mylan contributed over $4 million in 2012 and 2013 in an effort to pass federal legislation that was favorable to Mylan. One specific piece of that legislation was the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. (H.R. 2094). President Obama signed this legislation into law on November 13, 2013.
The Act says, in part: “Requires elementary and secondary schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine” (47 states are under this requirement). Mylan just happens to be the unequivocal leader in providing this medication and delivery system in the US.
Now you might still say, just because Mylan is the leader in supplying this medication, doesn’t mean this is wrong. But in addition to this legislation, and at the same time, Mylan also led a legal battle to bring its two primary competitors to their knees by once again pushing regulations that artificially raised costs of doing business for its competitors. Mylan pursued legal battles with both Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Kaleo Pharmaceuticals. Both of these companies were driven out of the market. (Kaleo subsequently came back into the market this year)
In summary, Mylan is a company that legally created a monopoly for its product through lobbying for legislation, then created artificial demand for its product through lobbying for legislation, and finally put its only competitors out of business through legal maneuvering. And we paid for all of it. – How can this be allowed? Who is looking out for the consumer?