The best thing Heather Bresch, CEO of the pharmaceutical company Mylan, can say about her appearance before Congress is that it wasn’t as bad a reception as that given John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts took Stumpf to the woodshed and locked the door earlier this week.
But things weren’t exactly friendly for Bresch, whose company makes EpiPen, the shots that are used in emergencies to stop potentially fatal allergic reactions. She appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday to explain why EpiPen’s price has increased 500 percent since 2007. Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, was not alone in his anger at the company. Chaffetz said executives for Mylan had made $300 million over five years while the price for two emergency shots was rising quickly. “Parents don’t have a choice,” he said. “If your loved one needs this, it better darn well be in your backpack.”
Chaffetz out-and-out doubted Bresch’s claim that the company makes only a $50 profit on each EpiPen, of the list price of $608 for a pair of shots.
Congress has been focused on inflated drug prices for some time, responding to constituent outrage over inflated prices and huge profits. Mylan has reported sales of more than $11 billion.
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Bresch’s appearance reminded some of the grilling some months back given former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, whose company bumped the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim by over 5,000 percent.
At least Congress is looking at the issue. What’s needed is even more intense scrutiny and action to curb pricing aimed at people who have no choice but to pay.