File this under outrageous. The manufacturer of the popular EpiPen, Mylan Labs, the Pittsuburgh-based pharmaceutical company has increased the price of EpiPen 400% in order to give a pay hike to top corporate executives.
However, the exorbitant increase has caught the attention of two US Senators and the media.
Senators Charles Grassley, Mark Warner, and Richard Blumenthal have written letters to the company demanding to know the reason for the price hike.
“As the parent of a child with severe allergies, I am all too familiar with the life-or-death importance of these devices,” Warner wrote.
One member of Congress has asked the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the matter.
“Thousands of Americans rely on EpiPens in a given year, and perhaps no time is more important in the purchasing of these devices than the beginning of a new school year,” Rep. Grace Meng wrote in a letter to committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and top Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
As the EpiPen prices have skyrocketed, families who depend upon the life-saving drug have been forced to resort to the use of syringes. But medical experts note that this alternative is not always the best or safest alternative. When Mylan bought the company that originally manufactured EpiPens the cost to the consumer was $57. Today, that cost has increased to $700 for a pack of two EpiPens.
“Anyone using this approach would require extensive medical training to do it effectively and safely, without contamination or accidental intravenous injection,” said Dr. James Baker, Jr., the CEO and chief medical officer of Food Allergy Research & Education.
Over 3.6 million prescriptions for EpiPen kits were written last year, and another half-million for other similar products, according to data provided by IMS Health.
Some states require schools to stock EpiPens. Emergency medical technicians who aren’t certified to give regular injections often carry them as well.
Yet, the price of EpiPens make them prohibitive for schools, EMT’s, and families.
Fox Business is reporting that there is another sinister angle to this story-tax inversion. According to Fox, “Known officially as Mylan N.V., Mylan bought the small generic specialty drug arm of Abbott Labs (ABT) in early 2014. That estimated $5 billion dollar purchase enabled the much larger Mylan (which has a current market cap of $24 billion dollars) to ‘move its headquarters’ to the Netherlands, a more tax-friendly country. Mylan was able to complete one of the last corporate inversions before Congress, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump launched a full court press to demonize the practice which involves Company A (in this case Mylan) buying Company B (usually based in a foreign country with a lower tax rate) in order to lower Company A’s tax bill.”
When a pharmaceutical company that makes a drug upon which so many people depend increases its prices to the point that it is no longer affordable something is terribly wrong. When drug companies put greedy corporate profiteering ahead of saving lives, something must be done.