Bresch grilled by congressional committee over EpiPen cost, response

By Jeff Jenkins in News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of a congressional committee grilled Mylan CEO Heather Bresch during a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday concerning the dramatic price increase of the company’s EpiPen product.

Bresch, the Marion County native and daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, frequently was cut off by members of the U.S. House Committee on Government Oversight & Government Reform who criticized her about the 400-percent price increase on the life-saving product needed by allergy-attack sufferers.

Bresch claimed Mylan responded appropriately to the criticism by offering an authorized generic version of EpiPen taking the current price of $608 for two doses down to $300.

“We never intended this. We listened and focused on this issue and came up with an immediate and sustainable solution,” she said.

Committee Chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) disagreed, arguing with Bresch the company would actually make more money by offering the generic product because it’s profit under the brand name is $274.00.

“The only thing you changed was the name. This is why we don’t believe you,” Chaffetz told Bresch. “If the price goes from $608 to $300, your collection on that is actually higher, and you’re telling me that your net profit is actually going to go down?”

Questions arose about Tuesday’s USA Today article in which Bresch’s mother, former state Board of Education member Gayle Manchin, pushed the use of EpiPens at schools nationwide when she was leading a national school board group. Bresch called the article “totally inaccurate.”

“While people may want to criticize Mylan for giving free pens and having access in public places to EpiPens, I certainly thought it was a very cheap shot to bring my mother into this,” Bresch said.

Bresch called the $608 price of the EpiPen fair, repeating the company is committed to making them affordable for every person who needs them.

“We raised the price over eight years,” she said, “And I think what is incorrectly assumed is that $608 is what Mylan receives. We receive $274 of that $608.”

Some members said they were less concerned about company’s profit and Bresch’s $18-million salary than they were about the monopoly the company has with EpiPen and the lack of movement by the federal Food and Drug Administration to approve similar products in competition.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) told Bresch not to be like other drug company executives who have appeared before Congress.

“After Mylan takes our punches they’ll fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all of the way to the bank while our constituents suffer,” Cummings said. “I hope that after the hearing is over that you just don’t go back to the champagne and say ‘we rope-a-doped it and now we go on with life like it was.’ Our constituents deserve better.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) scolded Bresch as getting what she deserved during the combative hearing.

“Not because you’re a bad person but because you’ve been in these halls and you asked the government (through lobbying) to get into your company’s business,” Mulvaney said. “If you want to come to the capitol and lobby us to buy your stuff this is what you’re going to get. You asked for it.”