Mylan Must Lower EpiPen Price

Aug. 30, 2016

Mylan Must Lower EpiPen Price

Statement of Rick Claypool, Researcher, Public Citizen

Note: Public Citizen launched a petition last week calling on Mylan to lower the price of EpiPens. Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen staffer, lives in Pittsburgh and along with other area activists today delivered more than 700,000 signatures gathered by Public Citizen and participating groups to Mylan headquarters outside Pittsburgh.

Good morning brothers and sisters.

We are here today because of corporate greed.

We are here today because this company, Mylan, put the pursuit of profit above all else.

We are here today to demand, on behalf of more than 700,000 outraged citizens represented by these petitions, that Mylan reverse its immoral EpiPen price hikes – which raised the price from about $100 to more than $600 – and to call on patients, parents and fed up people in Pennsylvania and all over the country to fight back against Big Pharma’s greed.

I work for Public Citizen, an organization that for 45 years and counting has stood for fighting corporate power and corporate greed.

When it comes to corporate power, there is no power greater than the power of life and death.

And when it comes to greed, Mylan is an especially appalling example.

Mylan now makes more than $1 billion a year from EpiPens alone. A billion!

The CEO, Heather Bresch, has seen her salary increase from $2 million to nearly $19 million in just a few years.

Meanwhile, the company a few years ago shifted its tax burden abroad by completing an inversion so that, on paper, the company is headquartered in the Netherlands.

Now, the dose of epinephrine that comes out of an EpiPen saves lives. Millions of allergy sufferers and their parents carry one in case of a severe reaction to a bee sting, peanuts or other allergen.

No one should be forced to choose between spending $600 on lifesaving medicine and buying groceries, keeping the furnace running or fixing the car.

No one should have to hesitate before buying lifesaving medicine for their children.

And not one life should be put at risk because of a drug company’s greed.

Canadian online pharmacies offer EpiPens for a little more than a $100 per pen. That would be an excessively high price, but at least within the bounds of reasonability.

I’d like to read a statement today from Emily Bopp Karpuszka, a Pittsburgh mother who carries an EpiPen for her two-year-old. She couldn’t be here today:

I carry one for my two-year-old who has a peanut allergy. I had to use one in a restaurant when he had a reaction due to residue on a booster seat – not from the food. Short of putting him in a plastic bubble, we can’t protect him from all peanut contact. We rely on EpiPens to keep him alive.

The EpiPen price increase will hinder my family’s ability to live a comfortable life and contribute to the economy. We are regular, middle-class people. Affording yearly EpiPens wasn’t easy before Mylan’s price increase. If my newborn son has an allergy like my two-year-old, we will be strained even more.

The EpiPen price gouging is the latest example of drug companies’ greed. Making people pay outlandish prices for lifesaving medicine should be a crime.

We agree.

So while our demands begin with Mylan reversing its unconscionable price hikes – not offering coupons, not offering an overpriced generic version – that is not where they end.

We demand that Congress pass laws imposing a windfall profits tax on Big Pharma to make it impossible for companies like Mylan to gouge consumers in the future.

We demand that Medicare be empowered to negotiate drug prices so that U.S. citizens are not overcharged for drugs – just as in Canada, France and the United Kingdom, where EpiPens cost a fraction of what they cost here.

Ultimately, we need to take on prescription drug corporation monopolies when life-saving medicines are priced out of reach, and we need a universal, single-payer health care system to ensure access for all.

But before that, we need greed-driven corporations like Mylan to back down. The movement to fight Big Pharma’s rip-offs is just getting started.

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