Heather Bresch tells House committee the company should have better anticipated severity of price hikes and says generic version will be sold soon
US politicians have accused the boss of drug company Mylan of attempting to get filthy rich by jacking up the price of life-saving allergy treatment EpiPen.
Speaking at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House committee on oversight and government reform, accused Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch of exploiting a strategy to find old cheap drug that has virtually no competition and raise the price over and over and over again as high as you can.
Mylan has increased the price of a pair of EpiPens sixfold since it bought the treatment. Cummings said the companys tactic was to get filthy rich at the expense of our constituents.
John Duncan, the Republican representative for Tennessees second district, said the amount of money Bresch has personally made from soaring profitability of EpiPen was sickening [and] disgusting.
Bresch, the daughter of Democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was paid $18.9m last year, a 671% increase since 2007.
Im a very conservative pro-business Republican, but I am sickened by what I have heard today, Duncan said. He said it was shaming that Mylan and Bresch were profiting on the backs of sick children.
Cummings said Bresch and Mylan would take our punches, theyll fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all the way to the bank while our constituents suffer, file for bankruptcy, and watch their children get sicker, and in some cases die.
The committee has price gouging pharmaceutical companies firmly in its sights, having previously grilled former hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical boss Martin Shrekli, dubbed the worlds most hated man after he jacked up the price of a HIV-related drug by 5,000%.
Bresch told the committee that she had not intended to make the life-saving allergy treatment unaffordable for families and wished that Mylan had better anticipated the magnitude and acceleration of the rising cost for patients. We never intended this.
You never anticipated this? You raised the price, what did you think was going to happen? Jason Chaffetz, the Republican committee chairman, asked her at the hearing in Washington.
Bresch said the company made only $50 profit per pen, which sells for $608 for a pack of two. She said the company would soon start selling a generic version of the EpiPen, which is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions by delivering a dose of epinephrine through injection into the thigh.
Chaffetz said Breschs claims of limited profits were a little hard to believe.
Suddenly feeling the heat, Mylan has offered a generic version and cut the price in half, so that does beg the question, what was happening with that other $300? he asked.
Holding up an EpiPen, Chaffetz said: The actual juice thats in here that you need costs about a dollar.
Cumming said making the generic version wasnt good enough, and accused the company of using the same PR playbook that other companies use.
Thats what Martin Shkreli did, that is what Valeant did, and that is what Mylan is doing, he said.
More than 3.6m two-pack EpiPen prescriptions were filled in the US last year, according to data firm IMS Health. That equates to almost $1.7bn in sales, but Mylan said it made revenues of about $1.1bn after fees to distributors and others.
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