EpiPens, made by a company called Mylan — are allergy injectors — sold two per pack — that contain epinephrine, a drug used to relax muscles. It can open the airways, and reduce swelling during a severe allergic reaction.
Over the years, the price of an EpiPen standard two-pack gradually grew to about $600. The same two-pack cost only about $100 in 2009. Meanwhile, epinephrine, which can be purchased alone, costs just a few dollars.
This isn’t new. A House of Representatives report found in 2014 that 10 generic drugs experienced price increases just a year prior, ranging from a 420% hike to more than 8,000%.
What’s going on? EpiPen explains:
“With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high-deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise. This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers and payors to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”
That’s sort of saying “We recognize the problem but don’t claim responsibility for it”.
It’s true that more people are stuck with a high-deductible health plan — 25% now as opposed to 4% before Obamacare. But one reason employers are moving to higher-deductible plans is because they’re reacting to rising health-insurance costs—which are climbing in part because companies like Mylan are hiking drug prices.
In any case, it might behoove Mylan to find those “solutions” quickly: Members of Congress are already calling for an investigation.
And one thing that is sure to come out? CEO compensation. According to filings reported by NBC News, Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch’s yearly compensation rose from $2,453,456 in 2007 to $18,931,068 last year.