As noted earlier, following a feverish push by Congress and Hillary Clinton to scapegoat Mylan, and its CEO, Heather Bresch, as “greedy” examples of corporatism (even though it is not Mylan’s fault it is a de facto monopoly and thus has unlimited pricing ability), the EpiPen maker on Thursday announced plans to boost access to its EpiPen Auto-Injector by expanding already existing programs for patients who are facing higher out-of-pocket costs. The company is reducing the cost of EpiPens through the use of a savings card which will cover up to $300 for the EpiPen 2-Pak.
“We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter,” Bresch said in a statement. “Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them.”
Bresch – whose compensation has increased by 671% from $2.5 million in 2007 to $18.9 million in 2015 – then appeared on CNBC where she took her defence to the public. Here, she correctly noted that while corporate profitability is an issue, and Mylan’s price hikes most certainly are not limited only to EpiPen…
… price is only one part of the problem that Mylan is addressing according to its CEO. “All involved must also take steps to help meaningfully address the U.S. health care crisis,” she said, “and we are committed to do our part to drive change in collaboration with policymakers, payors, patients and health care professionals.”
In other words, the company is at fault, but so is the system.
Bresch told CNBC that the healthcare system is in crisis, causing the patient to pay for full retail prices at the drug counter and rising premiums on their health insurance, noting that “only in healthcare” you could have paid $25 yesterday at a pharmacy counter one day and up are paying $600, $1000, $2000 the next day.
“No one’s more frustrated than me,” she said, and then she made a stark warning going to the heart of the problem: stating just how broken the US healthcare system – which allowed Mylan to charge as much as it did in the first place – truly is:
“My frustration is, the list price is $608. There is a system. I laid out that there are four or five hands that the product touches, and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter. Everyone should be frustrated. I’m hoping that this is an inflection point for this country. Our healthcare is in a crisis, it’s no different than the mortgage financial crisis back in 2007. This bubble is going to burst.”
Which, incidentally, is what we expected yesterday would happen: having been attacked by the same government whose regulations allowed her to charge as much as she does for Mylan drugs, she did the only rational thing possible: take the fight to where it should be waged, namely in Congress.
At the end of the day, the truth is inbetween: there is corporate greed which is ultimately capitalism’s fundamental profit motive, and then there is Congress, which is happy to collect hundreds of millions in lobby funding from the pharma industry, which generated unprecedented returns on its bribes to politicians.
Today’s crackdown on Mylan may have kicked the can, but absolutely nothing has been fixed, which is why Bresch is absolutely right: sooner or later the bubble will burst, but until then it will be covered by the only way the US government knows: with even more debt.
Her full interview with CNBS is below, and the key segment is 3:40 mins in.