In the last few months, we have heard from families around the country, but perhaps some of the most poignant messages we’ve received are from families in West Virginia. They have watched this story unfold firsthand. As you can imagine, some of the conversations around dinner tables in West Virginia are tough.
So when we received this amazing and heart-felt letter from a father and paramedic in West Virginia eloquently voicing his concern with Heather Bresch and Mylan for their EpiPen price gouging practices, sharing the personal nature of the political issue, we felt it was really important to share.
We are so grateful for all who are speaking out on this issue, as it brings an awareness not only to the skyrocketing price of EpiPens but also to the number of families around the country on both sides of the aisle now struggling with this condition.
As a West Virginia native, born in Wheeling and currently living in Morgantown, WV, I would like to voice my opinion on the EpiPen marketed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals.
As you know Mylan is located here in Morgantown, is well-known as being one of the largest employers in this area and has recently come under fire for the scandal associated with the exorbitant price hikes of their proprietary “EpiPen.”
This issue is near and dear to my heart. I was a paramedic for 30 yrs in this state and know the outcome of untreated anaphylactic shock. This can result from many allergen exposures such as bee stings, shellfish and closest to me, peanuts. My youngest daughter is allergic to peanuts, as are a growing number of children across America each year. As a family, we have had to purchase EpiPens for years to keep close in case of accidental exposure when she was away from home and I always carried a back up with my first aid gear. All schools require parents of children with life-threatening allergies to provide them with an EpiPen, a copy of the prescription and training on how to administer it each school year in cases of emergency. This means that we had to purchase not one EpiPen but multiple devices that could be kept at school when my daughter was younger, one for her to carry with her as she got older and one to keep at home. Another factor to consider with EpiPens is that they have an expiration date, so whether they are used or not, they must be discarded within this timeframe and new ones purchased to be kept everywhere they are needed. We had decent insurance at the time but even with our copay, the devices could be costly when considering the need for purchasing multiples every year, and that was before the recent price hike.
When the facts are broken down, the EpiPen is nothing more than a glorified delivery system for an extremely inexpensive drug that in many cases has the potential to save lives. While I can fully understand the need for companies to occasionally increase prices for certain products based on higher costs required to make and market the product, I cannot fathom the need for a 400% increase in recent years of a device whose main component is a drug that costs around ONE DOLLAR per device. What astounds me even further is the true reason behind the price hike… The increased profit will undoubtedly not be funneled to the workers on the production lines or the creation of more jobs to produce the product or even charitable contributions to find cures for any number of diseases, but as I understand it, at the root of this entire scheme is greed on the behalf of one person at the top of the food chain at this company. The following is an excerpt from an online CNBC article: “As the full retail price for the device rose to more than $600, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s annual compensation has soared more than 700 percent, to $19 million. And Bresch, whose father is U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D.-W.Va., last year orchestrated a re-incorporation for Mylan in the Netherlands. That so-called inversion will net Mylan a nice break from U.S. taxes despite the fact that its main offices are in Pennsylvania.”
In my humble opinion as a caregiver and father, this act is nothing less than criminal. The substantial price increase causes a huge hardship for families with no other option but to purchase the EpiPen and knowing that the sole reason behind this act is the sheer greed and selfishness of one person, Heather Bresch, is simply unforgivable.
I wholeheartedly believe that Heather Bresch of Mylan Pharmaceuticals is taking every advantage of cornering the market with her monopoly of this product and the recent news reports of her mother, Gayle Manchin, spearheading an effort to encourage schools to purchase epinephrine auto injectors is despicable. I sincerely hope that no lives are lost as a result of families not being able to afford a dollar’s worth of epinephrine, all over a little bit of money.