The public furor over Mylan’s price-gouging pricing for the EpiPen, now called #EpiGate, shows no signs of stopping. The company has raised the price of the life-saving device 17 times since acquiring it in 2007.
A host of public interest organizations representing consumers, allergy sufferers, doctors and concerned citizens today delivered the signatures of more than 700,000 people around the country calling for Mylan to reverse its EpiPen price hikes.
After relentless public outcry over exorbitant price increases, last Thursday, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch responded by announcing an expansion of the EpiPen discount card program. On Monday morning, Mylan announced its introduction of a generic version of the EpiPen injector that the corporation will sell for $300 per two-pack.
Groups participating in the petition drive find these measures inadequate and are demanding an immediate reduction in the price of EpiPens.
Last week, news outlets nationwide reported on the more than 500 percent increase in price for EpiPens, from less than $100 to more than $600 for a two-pack since Mylan purchased the product line from Merck KGaA in 2007.
Over the same period, Mylan increased its EpiPen revenues from around $200 million per year to $1.2 billion in 2015.
Almost immediately after acquiring the product, Mylan went on an aggressive campaign to increase the revenues through EpiPen sales, using tactics, which included so-called education campaigns and intensive lobbying efforts to expand EpiPen’s availability to different venues.
Bresch’s salary increased from around $2 million when the company acquired EpiPen to nearly $19 million last year.
The signatures were gathered by public interest organizations including Public Citizen, MoveOn.org Civic Action, The Other 98%, Social Security Works, MomsRising, Democracy for America, Sum of Us, Sierra Rise, Doctors for America and Consumers Union.
Quotes From Representatives of Participating Organizations
“American families are being bled dry by drug company profiteering that is completely legal. Mylan’s move with EpiPen is just the latest example. The financial pain that results from these skyrocketing drug prices takes a serious toll on virtually every facet of consumers’ lives, from retirement plans to the essentials of everyday living, like buying groceries. Today, we’re standing with 700,000 Americans who are demanding Mylan lower its price now.” – Lisa Gill, deputy content editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs
“This is the most outrageous act of corporate greed we’ve seen in years. Heather Bresch has gotten rich by gouging allergy sufferers. She’s putting lives at risk by making the EpiPen unaffordable – and she still won’t admit she was wrong. Democracy for America members demand that she come to her senses and slash the price of the EpiPen to an affordable level.” – Karli Wallace Thompson, campaign manager, Democracy for America
“It is shameful that executives at Mylan gave themselves massive pay raises as they hiked the price of EpiPens 500 percent. I see patients every day who are struggling to afford this lifesaving drug. My own daughter has a life-threatening peanut allergy and not having an EpiPen available is unthinkable.” – Mona Mangat, MD, chair of the Board of Directors, Doctors for America, and a practicing allergist-immunologist
“I’m a mom of a food allergy kid. I have the sleepless nights. The grey hairs. And the worry lines of that fate. Mylan’s plan to offer a discount coupon to some purchasers of the EpiPen, rather than actually LOWER the price of this lifesaving medication, is wholly inadequate and incredibly cynical. Like many other families, I have a child who has extremely severe food allergies, and we see the EpiPen as critical to his life and health. Mylan cynically capitalized on its monopoly on this drug to dramatically increase the price and line the pockets of its already well-paid executives, at the expense of the lives and health of its customers. My son, who needs EpiPens to handle his severe food allergies captured it perfectly: ‘Companies who make lifesaving medicines like EpiPens deserve to make profits, but not at the expense of the lives of those they are supposed to help.’ MomsRising will continue to call on Mylan to truly lower the price of the EpiPen, as well as to increase access to this critical medicine, so that all people who need this lifesaving drug are able to afford it. The lives of Americans depend upon it.” – Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director, MomsRising
“Instead of a real solution to make sure people with severe allergies have access to life-saving EpiPens, this announcement from Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is an attempt at a quick PR fix. Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken out, and it’s clear this entire industry needs to be brought in line with a set of standards that controls the price of medicine across the board. Offering coupons and half measures is not enough. Mylan must stop price gouging consumers immediately.” – Corinne Ball, platform campaign director, MoveOn.org Civic Action
“The outrageous price gouging of Mylan Labs yielding super profits made off of the lifesaving EpiPen demand change and not charity! Their actions are not only morally repugnant but demand legislative action by federal officials and Congress. Together they must consider legislation that would stop drug companies from reaping extreme profits when a drug costs less than five dollars to produce. Legislative action must be enacted to block these companies from paying cash to delay generics, and federal law should allow federal Medicare to negotiate prices with big Pharma, and permit U.S. citizens to purchase lifesaving drugs from Canada as a start. The tremendous influence that drug companies have due to their PAC donations must be exposed and made available to the public. Moving to a cost effective single-payer national health care system would truly mean that people’s health would be the basis of our health care delivery system and not private profits.” – The Honorable Jim Ferlo, Retired state senator and former president of the Pittsburgh City Council
“Mylan’s price gouging of the EpiPen is just the latest symptom of a patent system that rewards greed and punishes people who need medicine. Maintaining pricey monopolies on medicines developed by our tax dollars makes no sense to anyone except well paid CEOs and their lobbyists.” – Samantha Corbin, actions director, The Other 98%
“Monday’s announcement is just one more convoluted mechanism for Mylan executives to avoid plain talk, admit their price gouging and just cut the price of EpiPen. They should be ashamed of themselves. But even if they are not, they should recognize that the issue is not going away until the company rolls back the EpiPen price.” – Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
“Mylan and their CEO, Heather Bresch, have abused the privilege of their monopoly to extract obscene profits from a lifesaving device developed with public dollars, they must lower the price now. More importantly we call on President Obama to instruct the Food and Drug Administration, as mandated by his executive order, to ‘promote competition through pro-competitive rulemaking and regulations.” – Alex Lawson, executive director, Social Security Works
Originally posted in The Public Citizen Press Room.