Got a peanut or a bee allergy? You may want to sit this one out. Mylan, the company who bought EpiPen, hiked up the price of its injection device over the last few years. By 500%. For no real reason. Cue outrage from a lot of fearful parents who have allergic kids heading back to school (spoiler alert: EpiPens expire after a year, hence not affordable). Mylan dominates the market not because of the drug itself but because of its simplified injector, which is handy in life-threatening situations. Thus capitalism 101 where a lack of competition has created a runaway price increase. Even worse, Mylan executives have been steadily and obscenely increasing their pay checks for a job well done in exploiting the US health care system. So why did Mylan do this? Because it could.
This is not the first time a Big Pharma company (here’s looking at you Valeant and Turing) has done a triple-digit price increase on a generic drug where it dominates the market – it seems there's a method to the madness of prioritizing profit over human life. Mylan says blame the system, since families are paying for rising costs of drugs and rising insurance premiums. They’re not wrong. The Affordable Care Act is a less than perfect system where many sellers try to maximize their share of an expanding pool of health-care dollars with minimum competition. And some drugs are just expensive to make. But in pocketing the extra dollars it makes off such a system, Mylan is clearly being hypocritical. FYI no word on whether company execs are going to take a pay cut.
Meanwhile the “exorbitantly expensive” injectors have come to the attention of politicians, celebrities and social media, and Congress is getting the FDA involved. So in response to the considerable backlash Mylan is going to launch a generic, cheaper version of its EpiPen as part of a manipulative “shell game” which seeks to heal damage to its brand, deter competition from other drug companies trying to develop their own generic and still make a bucket load of cash. And their promised “financial assistance” (a coupon deal for low-income patients) is your basic PR stunt that Big Pharma uses to dodge blame for killing people who can’t afford its drugs. But of course in the end the EpiPen does save lives. That’s why Mylan’s price hike – which is based on life worth rather than drug cost – is just plain wrong. Maybe it’s time they realize that spending millions to save billions is just good business.
Feel the health care system is rigged? Make Pfriends with Pfizer. Movie for your mood: Love and Other Drugs