WASHINGTON – Mylan CEO Heather Bresch on Wednesday once again 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 of Maryland, called out Mylan for 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 a solution.
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 since Mylan bought the auto-injector in 2007, an increase of nearly 550 percent.
Cummings and Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, had written to Bresch requesting documents and more information about the price increases.
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 savings card to cover up to $300 of the EpiPen for participating patients and a direct-ship option.
Bresch continuously mentioned that Mylan receives $100 from each EpiPen pack after subtracting costs of research, staffing and more. According to Bresch, Mylan’s profit in 2015 was about $40 per pen compared to $50 now, despite the higher wholesale cost.
Bresch 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. In her 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.
The company is also working on creating a generic of the injector that is expected to cost $300 and 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.
Mylan is also working with various patient advocacy groups to put the EpiPen on the federal list of preventive medical services. Items on the list must stop patients from getting sick. If added, the cost would be covered by the federal government, insurers and employers instead of by consumers. It also could mean that Mylan would have less pressure to reduce EpiPen costs.
But it has been reported that the United States Preventive Service Task Force is not expected to approved the EpiPen.