Days after a backlash erupted against the pharmaceutical company Mylan, which has raised the price of EpiPens, a life-saving medical product, by over 400 percent in recent years, the company set out to address the crisis it had created.
On Thursday, Mylan announced it would offer a $300 coupon for EpiPens to help cover the hefty co-pays for certain customers, which inspired grumbles from pundits and politicians alike, who argued that the move will do nothing to slow rising drug prices, health-care spending, and insurance premiums. As Mylan’s stock dropped, it dispatched Heather Bresch, its well-compensated CEO, to defend the price hike and perform a ritual hand-wringing over the state of the American health-care industry. This is when things got interesting.
“Look, no one’s more frustrated than me,” Bresch offered in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, hoisting blame upon the “system” and suggesting that the “four or five hands” that the product passes through before reaching the customer were the reason that costs had been driven up. While that may be part of the explanation, the most precipitous boost in the price, as The New York Times reported, also came as a generic version of the EpiPen seemed poised to enter the market. The cheaper generic was rejected by the FDA less than six months ago, which kept the EpiPen one of very few options for severe allergy sufferers, incentivizing Mylan to keep prices high.