Heather Bresch, the CEO of EpiPen maker Mylan, knows who to blame for soaring drug prices — and it’s not her company.
“EpiPen had to be the catalyst to show this window into what hard-working families are facing in the rapid rise of high deductible plan,” Bresch said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit on Thursday.
It’s true. High deductible insurance plans are on the rise, and they leave patients on the hook for a greater portion of medications like insulin or EpiPen, which is used to used in extreme allergic reactions.
It is worth pointing out that the only reason she’s talking about this is that Mylan was called out in August for raising the price of EpiPen from $93.88 to $608.61 over the last decade. It caught the nation’s attention because parents were re-filling their kids’ prescriptions, and some found that they were on the hook for hundreds of dollars for the device.
The fury didn’t end there. Her compensation became an issue, as did her parents’ political connections (her father is a Senator and her mother was head of the National Association of State Boards of Education). Around the same time, it was also revealed that Mylan was being accused of overcharging of government programs for the device.
To Bresch, its clear that Mylan hasn’t done anything wrong though. In fact, she said all this “will have been worth it,” if it gets the US to address what’s really causing people to pay high prices at the pharmacy counter.
During her conversation with Forbes senior editor Matthew Herper, Bresch spoke of the complexity of the EpiPen autoinjector and Mylan’s efforts to increase access and awareness for severe allergic reactions. Bresch said Mylan’s been able to reach 80% more patients since the company acquired the EpiPen, to which Herper countered that Mylan would then be able to make money off both volume and the price increases.
Bresch responded by saying that the price increases allowed for “reasonable profit.”
Bresch, who has a background in lobbying, was also asked why she didn’t see all this outrage coming. She said that has to do with the rapid exposure patients are getting to healthcare costs.
“The pharma pricing system was not built on the idea of consumer engagement,” she said. “It was built … on market efficiencies. It was not built on the premise of consumerism.”
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