If you watch any TV, you’ve probably seen this ad: two kids talk about their allergies, one from a bee sting, another from peanuts or seafood (I hate to admit it, but I often don’t pay that much attention), a woman talking about ‘never being without her EpiPen, and what is probably a school nurse extolling the virtues of EpiPen for people who suffer from life-threatening allergic reactions. The ad then goes on to tell you how important this life-saving device is, with a few small print warnings about possible adverse reactions that you see (if you look quickly, and that’s usually what I look for) in all pharmaceutical ads.

This ad, though, is more notable for what it doesn’t tell you. For one thing, you need to change the thing annually because after that time it’s not effective, and for another, each refill of a package of two EpiPens costs you $608.68, a more than 400% increase since Mylan acquired the rights to EpiPen in 2007 from Merck-KGaA. Mylan has raised the price of EpiPen several times since the acquisition, but this latest price increase prompted an immediate outcry from politicians and doctors. In response, Mylan has offered to help more patients to cover out-of-pocket costs, but declined to lower the price. Without reading the details of Mylan’s offer, I can bet the fine print will be so detailed that few consumers will qualify, and since Mylan dominates the $1 billion plus market in this type of device, and also excels in lobbying, people who depend on EpiPen will be forced to cough up the money for it. Mylan needs that income, folks. It recently raised its CEO’s base salary to a hefty $1.3 million annually to add to her total compensation of $38.9 million. In order to maintain her lifestyle, they’ll have to sell a lot of the devices, and will probably raise the price yet again when the furor dies down.

Opponents of government involvement in healthcare and health insurance coverage argue that such things should be left to the private sector. Well, if Mylan is any example, we all know what the private sector is focused on, and it’s not the welfare of consumers.

Yet again, Big Pharma is sticking it to all of us. 

Published by Charles Ray