Thursday, September 1, 2016

Shot in the Heart

I am sure that like me, many of you read with outrage about the steadily rising cost of the EpiPen by the pharmaceutical company, Mylan. According to a recent article from, Mylan has increased the price of the lifesaving device 15 times in the last seven years. Today, the price of a two-pack of EpiPens is just over $600—a 400% increase from 2007. How does a single mom with four kids, one of whom has a deadly peanut allergy, possibly pay for this critical treatment?

While I was dismayed by the exorbitant rise in cost, what had me just as infuriated was Mylan CEO Heather Bresch refusing to take responsibility for the price increase and instead blaming the health care system. While I don’t think the industry is perfect and I know there is a great deal we can do to make it better, in this instance the dramatic price increase lies directly at the feet of the pharmaceutical industry and Mylan. 

Mylan, which has an estimated 95% share of the market, continued to increase the price even after their main competitor took their product off the market last year. Furthermore, the company is clearly making a healthy profit. According to an article in USA Today, “the company turned a profit of $847.6 million in 2015 on $9.45 billion in revenue, representing a net profit margin of 8.9%. To be sure, however, Mylan is profiting more heavily off of EpiPen than it does other drugs. The company's operating margin on EpiPen is about 55%, according to at least one analyst, and its overall operating profit margin is 20%.”

I don’t begrudge the company for making money, but there has to some kind of middle ground here. And while I am glad that Mylan has responded to this outrage by launching a generic version of the EpiPen at a 50% discount and well as made a promise to offer discount cards to those who have to pay for the device out of pocket, the wholesale price needs to be cut and this type of price-gouging needs to be regulated.

Congress has launched an inquiry into Mylan and its pricing practices. I hope this incident serves as a catalyst for change across the board. It is not fair to the millions of families affected by deadly allergies or other life threatening illnesses. It’s a shot in the heart to all of us.

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