Why Are We Paying $300 for an EpiPen That Holds Only $1 Worth of Medicine?

In 2007, the wholesale price of the EpiPen in the US was $57. Less than a decade later, the life-saving drug now costs over $300. Each EpiPen reportedly contains only $1 worth of medicine. Mylan has a near monopoly in the US, and the company has seen its profits from the EpiPen alone skyrocket to $1 billion a year. Meanwhile, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation has spiked from around $2.5 million in 2007 to almost $19 million today. In response to the price hikes, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen and its allies will deliver a petition signed by approximately 600,000 people to Mylan’s headquarters in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, today demanding further price cuts. For more, we speak with Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. And we speak with Ashley Alteman, who runs a website called SmashleyAshley.com, where she has just posted an open letter to Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Peter Maybarduk, explain exactly what has happened here. Explain what the price increase was and how people are organizing now. What is Heather Bresch explaining here?

PETER MAYBARDUK: Well, the drug companies want to point fingers at the insurers, and the insurers want to point fingers at the drug companies. But it’s all convoluted mechanisms to avoid plain talk about price. This is a 100-year-old drug in a 40-year-old injection technology that was invented in connection with Department of Defense projects, meaning that taxpayers already paid for a considerable amount of the research associated with this — with this product. It hit the market. When Mylan acquired the rights, the product cost $100. Now it’s up to $600. The increases in EpiPen prices have more or less tracked the increases in the Mylan CEO’s pay, executive compensation, over that period of time. There haven’t been significant improvements to that product, as was mentioned, in the time, so we’re…

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