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Mylan CEO defends EpiPen pricing in congressional hearing

By
Kelly Norris, Medill News Service
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch holds up a sample of the company's two-pack EpiPen as she testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch holds up a sample of the company's two-pack EpiPen as she testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mylan CEO Heather Bresch on Wednesday defended her company's EpiPen pricing, which had reached $608.61 for a two-pack of the epinephrine auto-injector, telling a skeptical House committee that a generic version at half the price should be available soon.

The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., accused the company of using a corrupt business model in repeatedly raising EpiPen prices. Cummings said he is concerned that drug companies are raising prices repeatedly for medication that lacks competition. He called for more than just an apology from Bresch, but also a solution.

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The EpiPen device delivers a regulated dose of epinephrine to someone in the case of a severe allergic reaction. The price of the EpiPen two-pack has gone from $93.66 to $608.61 -- an increase of nearly 550 percent -- since Mylan bought it 2007.

Cummings and Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, had written to Bresch requesting documents and more information about the price increases.

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In late August, after widespread public outrage at the rising cost of EpiPens, Mylan announced it was working on initiatives to make the auto-injector more accessible, including a discount card to cover up to $300 of the cost and a direct-ship option.

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Bresch, whose father is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, said repeatedly that Mylan makes $100 from each EpiPen pack after subtracting the costs of research, staffing and more. Mylan's profit in 2015 was about $40 per pen compared to $50 now, despite the higher wholesale cost, she said.

Bresch's salary has also increased with EpiPen prices in the past eight years. Bresch earned $2.45 million in 2007, compared to more than $18 million last year. Under questioning, Bresch justified this raise by pointing to her direct involvement in providing free EpiPens to over 66,000 schools in the past four years.

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The company is also working on creating a generic version that is expected to cost $300. It would be available for direct-ship from Mylan and launch in the next few weeks. When Chaffetz asked if this $300 would go straight to Mylan and thus increase profits, Bresch was unable to answer clearly.

Earlier this week, the state of West Virginia launched an investigation into Mylan for possible anti-trust violations.

The New York Attorney General's office has launched a similar probe into the company's contracts with school districts.

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