EpiPen Big Pharma price gouging in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Why Are We Paying $300 for an EpiPen That Holds Only $1 Worth of Medicine?

30 August 2016

In 2007, the wholesale price of the EpiPen in the U.S. was $57. Less than a decade later, the life-saving drug now costs over $300. Each EpiPen reportedly contains only $1 worth of medicine. Mylan has a near monopoly in the U.S., and the company has seen its profits from the EpiPen alone skyrocket to $1 billion a year. Meanwhile, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation has spiked from around $2.5 million in 2007 to almost $19 million today.

In response to the price hikes, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen and its allies will deliver a petition signed by approximately 600,000 people to Mylan’s headquarters in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, today demanding further price cuts. For more, we speak with Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. And we speak with Ashley Alteman, who runs a website called SmashleyAshley.com, where she has just posted an open letter to Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.

By Kate Randall in the USA:

EpiPen price gouging: Capitalism and the US health care crisis

Mylan Pharmaceutical’s enormous price hikes for EpiPen, an emergency drug for life-threatening allergic reactions, highlight both the outrageous practices of the US pharmaceutical industry and the deplorable state of health care in America.

A two-pack of EpiPen Auto-Injectors, which cost about $100 in 2004, adjusted for inflation, now costs over $600, putting the life-saving device out of reach for many adults and children. The device quickly delivers a controlled dosage of epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis, a potentially deadly allergic reaction to medication, food or insect bites.

Mylan’s price gouging has become a focal point of anger over the complete subordination of health care to huge corporations that are driven by an insatiable quest for profit. On a daily basis, working people see reports of multimillion-dollar bonanzas for executives at giant pharmaceutical and insurance companies, while tens of millions of people struggle to pay for essential prescription drugs and medical treatments because of ever-higher deductibles, co-pays and premiums.

Mylan’s price gouging is a particularly disgusting example of profiteering in the health care industry. A 2011 survey found that 8 percent of US children had a food allergy and nearly 40 percent of these individuals had a history of severe reactions. With the six-fold increase in price, families are gambling on not purchasing EpiPens or paying for the auto-injectors by going deeper into debt and forgoing other necessities.

Mylan is the second-largest generic and specialty drug company in the world, with about 35,000 employees, more than 1,400 products, and customers in more than 150 countries. Mylan obtained the EpiPen franchise through its 2007 purchase of the generic division of Merck, another pharmaceutical giant.

To generate sales, Mylan has spent tens of millions on EpiPen TV ads. This includes $1.7 million on ads broadcast during the Rio Olympics that show a teenager mistakenly ingesting peanut butter at a party and losing consciousness while her friends frantically call 911.

Forty-seven US states now require public schools to stock the devices. Its use has grown by 67 percent since 2008, and over 3.6 million prescriptions were written for EpiPens last year. Sales of the device have generated annual revenues of $1 billion, accounting for 40 percent of Mylan’s profits.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation went from $2.4 million in 2007 to nearly $19 million in 2015. When questioned in an interview about the EpiPen price hikes, she said, “Look, we’re going to continue to run a business.”

But Bresch and Mylan, contrary to the media presentation, are not aberrations. Drug companies across the board are raising prices for both generic and brand name drugs. Here are some of the biggest recent price hikes:

• Between 2002 and 2013, the cost of insulin for treatment of diabetes rose nearly 200 percent, from $4.34 per milliliter to $12.92.

Gilead prices a single course of treatment with Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug, at $84,000, or $1,000 per pill.

• Turing Pharmaceuticals last year acquired US marketing rights for Daraprim, used to treat the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet.

A 2015 report found that prescription drugs cost up to 10 times more in the US than they do in other countries. The EpiPen is a case in point. Meda sells a two-pack of EpiPens in France for about $85, while the price for the antidote syringes in Canada is about $100.

An article in Tuesday’s New York Times pointed indirectly to the involvement of a whole network of corporate players in the profiteering that rests upon the inflation of prescription drug prices. It quotes the head of a consulting firm for the drug distribution industry as saying that “if Mylan had simply lowered the price, it would have risked angering all the parties in the distribution network, including pharmacy benefit managers, wholesalers and pharmacies, which take a piece of the total amount spent on the drug.”

Commenting on Mylan’s decision, in the face of a sharp fall in its stock price last week, to offer a generic version of EpiPen at a price of $300, half that of the brand-name version, the drug industry expert said that introducing a generic was “a way to do it without making enemies with a bunch of Fortune 25 companies who control your fate.”

In other words, health care provision in capitalist America is a racket in which the spoils are divided among a number of corporate players, at the expense of the health and lives of the general population.

Another industry analyst noted on Monday that even at the “bargain” price of $300, Mylan’s overall revenue per prescription would be about $280.

COMPOUNDING THE EPIPEN PRICING SCANDAL New Wall Street Journal analysis shows Mylan had the “second-highest executive compensation among all U.S. drug and biotech firms over the past five years.” [WSJ | Paywall]

Inside Mylan’s efforts to protect its EpiPen profits.

West Virginia investigating Mylan over EpiPen pricing: here.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS RIP INTO MYLAN CEO “They raised the prices, for the reason being, I believe, to get filthy rich at the expense of our constituents.” [Lauren Weber, HuffPost]

Make sure your EpiPen is not one of the ones recalled by Mylan.

Big Pharma corrupting doctors: here.

A recently-released US Senate investigation found that four major pharmaceutical companies operated like hedge funds and followed specific business models to monopolize drugs for rare, life-threatening conditions: here.

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