It took a public outcry to get the Mylan pharmaceutical company to offer a discounted EpiPen. Without the negative PR, it is a safe bet that Mylan would have continued to gouge its customers with its ridiculously expensive injection device.
For years, Mylan upped the price of the EpiPen until the public finally revolted and the backlash forced a change. Mylan recently announced it now will provide a generic device at half the cost.
It is a shame it took negative publicity to make company officials do the right thing.
With drug prices soaring and no reliable way to rein them in, it looks like a public uproar is now the most effective way to get officials in the pharmaceutical industry to care about patients as much as profits.
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There are certainly some drugs and devices that are justifiably costly. But the EpiPen should not fall into that category.
Its design was created about 40 years ago, and for decades it was considered affordable.
Mylan took over the EpiPen product in 2007 when people could buy it for $100. Now a package of two costs around $600, and they are only sold in packages of two in case one fails.
The double-package makes sense, but still, that is a huge jump in price considering the dose of epinephrine in the EpiPen reportedly costs about $1.
No one who needs an EpiPen should be priced out of owning one. For many people with life-threatening allergies, keeping an EpiPen with them wherever they go is a part of life.
The spring-loaded device is used to automatically inject a dose of epinephrine into your thigh, which is critical if your airway is swelling because of an allergic reaction.
It is estimated that 3.6 million prescriptions were written last year for the EpiPen. The pens are good for only one year and then another must be purchased.
Heather Besch, Mylan chief executive officer, said in an interview with the New York Times that the price increases were necessary for the company to recoup its investment. She also blamed insurance companies who are forcing customers to pay more out of pocket.
Her response didn’t go over well, especially when it was revealed that Besch’s salary went from $2.9 million nine years ago to nearly $19 million in 2015 — which reflects the same period of time that Mylan incrementally boosted the price of the EpiPen.
It has been reported the EpiPen contributed to 40 percent of Mylan’s profit share.
When a pharmaceutical CEO rakes in millions of dollars on the backs of families who can barely afford an overpriced life-saving device, the public reaction naturally will be harsh.
This latest offer of providing a discounted, generic EpiPen is something that could have been on the market a long time ago. But since Mylan had a monopoly on the device, offering a less expensive alternative was not going to happen until the public demanded it.
Drug companies need to make a profit to survive, but they don’t need to stick it to the customer.