Health

EpiPen Maker Now Under Senate Investigation

| by Ray Brown
EpiPenEpiPen

A U.S. Senate panel will launch a "preliminal inquiry" into Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that controversially raised the price of a medical device people with severe allergies depend on.

“The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has opened a preliminary inquiry concerning Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ pricing and competition practices with respect to the EpiPen,” read a statement from Democratic Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. “Our review of this matter will be robust, thorough, and bipartisan. Parents and school districts in Ohio, Missouri and across the country need affordable access to this life-saving drug, and we share their concern over Mylan’s sustained price increases.”

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Mylan made headlines when the company raised the price of the EpiPen, an injection device that administers epinephrine to combat severe allergies, from $100 to $600. And according to NBC News, the device doesn't cost more than $30 to produce.

The price hike enraged consumers, who saw it as another example of pharmaceutical companies charging outrageous prices for life-saving medication.

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Mylan CEP Heather Bresch, who happens to be the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, told CNBC that the price hike was due to how the “system” distributes medications.

“There is a system,” she explained. “I laid out that there are four or five hands that the product touches, and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter. Everyone should be frustrated. I'm hoping that this is an inflection point for this country."

In 2015, Bresch's salary was $19 million, according to The Washington Post.

Fortune Magazine has listed her as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women for several years and defended its decision to include her again this year.

“If anything, the revelations of the EpiPen price hikes have illustrated just how much power Bresch has -- in business, in the pharmaceutical industry, and in the households of thousands of families who rely on EpiPen to save the lives of their loved ones,” Fortune explained.

Sources: Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, CNBC, The Washington Post, Fortune / Photo credit: Tokyogirl79/Wikimedia Commons