It’s been many months and many major political issues since the nation collectively condemned pharmaceutical company Mylan for its exorbitant pricing of the EpiPen, and today, the company is still charging consumers the same outrageous price while the rest of us have our back turned.
Last year, elected officials and patient advocates alike all joined together to condemn the greedy tactics of Big Pharma member Mylan. Like the infamous “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, the makers at Mylan jacked the prices of the EpiPen to outrageous levels for no real reason. As a result, parents found that providing the required antidote to severe allergic reactions in their children was far too expensive to afford.
In the months since the outcry, Mylan promised to come up with reasonable solutions. Mylan produced a half-price generic version and promoted online coupons that could be clipped to discount their exorbitant product. They claimed that their customers and health care first, profit second. They lied and smiled and waited for the attention to die down – and it did.
As it turns out, after the nation turned its critical gaze on Mylan, the company did what it always does in times of controversy – lie and mislead. Now, nearly a year later, most Americans have forgotten their outrage and “damn Mylan,” has dropped out of politicians’ attention spans.
Luckily for Mylan, this means that they are still able to charge their outrageous prices for a simple medical device containing a small dose of medication vital to children with severe allergies.
Everyone has forgotten, that is, except for the parents who continue to have to purchase EpiPens for their children. For those Americans, a quick visit to the doctor’s office to buy a simply made device which contains a minute dose of epinephrine can leave them out of more than $600.
Mylan executives told the New York Times that they felt they had made reasonable concessions by providing online discounts and a generic version. But for low-income and non-internet-savvy consumers, these discounts might as well not even exist. In some cases, obtaining the generic version can be a hassle, and even the half-priced off-brand’s price tag is steep.
“Mylan has been called out again and again over the years — by the company’s own employees, regulators, patients, politicians and the press — and hasn’t changed, even as revenue has skyrocketed, hitting $11 billion last year. The firm is a case study in the limits of what consumer and employee activism, as well as government oversight, can achieve.”
So what can be done? In the short term, the U.S. and its leaders must once again return their ire to Mylan and other big pharma players who take advantage of consumers’ needs in order to profit at any cost.
In the long term, President Trump must lead the charge against this price-gouging on a medical level. He once indicated that he would fight outrageous pricing in pharmaceuticals, but later softened his stance and then did nothing at all.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. to begin importing pharmaceuticals from our northern neighbor. Doing so would force American companies to become more competitive and help remove the monopoly that allowed Mylan and others to charge far too much.
The legislation was blocked by Republicans and even some Democrats in the Senate, including Big Pharma buyout Cory Booker. Mylan is lucky to have so many devoted players – both Democrat and Republican – in the government helping to protect their massive profits.