Big Pharma: Pro-profit or Life Savers?

Dielle Ochotorena

Staff Writer

A couple weeks ago, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing to discuss the price gouging of Epinephrine Auto-Injectors produced by the pharmaceutical company Mylan. They questioned their CEO Heather Bresch over why the prices of their EpiPen packs have risen from $100 in 2009 to $600 this past year.

While it might not seem such a big deal to some, the problem lies in the fact that EpiPens last only for one year and with the new school year parents need to buy a new pack for their children to take with them to school and to have on hand in case of emergency. The price hike could be justified if the post of production for the pen was expensive enough but it’s not.

While the company has not disclosed the exact price for production of the EpiPens, “outside experts have said it costs no more than $30 per device, and possibly much less. The dosage of epinephrine itself reportedly costs just about $1 per device” (CNBC). So why have the prices risen over 400%? The answer: Money.

It’s not the first time that money is the factor for such a heinous crime in a field highly under regulated by the government. Due to the aggressive marketing campaign of the EpiPen, using parents’ awareness of caring for their children and a federal bill that encourages for EpiPens to be on hand in schools, Mylan was able to boost their revenue from the medicine and hike up the prices without anyone giving a second glance at the cost.

From the original price being $57 when they bought the rights to the drug to its current price of $608, a price hike of 400%, earned the company nearly $1 billion in revenue since 2007 when they bought the drug pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck KGaA (Bloomberg). So for a company that says they are only campaigning, “for awareness for increased anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness, and access to treatment”, they are making some big money and frankly that should be concerning (Newsroom.Mylan).

Currently Mylan is trying to ease the anger from consumers by giving them $300 coupons to qualified customers to help decrease the $600 copay for their EpiPens and creating a generic version of the product costing $300 which is still far too high it’s starting cost of $57. We shouldn’t have to pay such high prices for a drug that saves lives. Whether this plan will work for Mylan or not only time will tell, crossing my fingers that the FDA approves a drug like the EpiPen sooner rather than later.