Mylan CEO on EpiPens: The system rewards higher prices

Price increases on lifesaving EpiPens have parents outraged — but the CEO of the company that makes them said no one’s more frustrated than her, pointing to other players in an “outdated” health-care system.

“The system incentivizes higher prices,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.

The price of EpiPens, a lifesaving medication and delivery system for people with severe allergies, has increased more than 400 percent in the past decade.

Heather Bresch, CEO Mylan

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Heather Bresch, CEO Mylan

The price hikes have gotten national scrutiny. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the increases “outrageous,” saying they put “profits ahead of patients.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has written Mylan asking how EpiPen’s prices were determined.

“No one’s more frustrated than me,” Bresch said. “My frustration is, the list price is $608. There is a system. I laid out that there are four or five hands that the product touches, and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter. Everyone should be frustrated. I’m hoping that this is an inflection point for this country.”

Mylan responded on Thursday by expanding already existing programsfor patients who are facing higher out-of-pocket costs.

The company is reducing the cost of EpiPens through the use of a savings card that will cover up to $300 for the EpiPen 2-Pak. Patients who were previously paying the full price for the EpiPen will have their out-of-pocket cost cut by 50 percent. Mylan also is doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program.

But Bresch said to do that, she had to go “around the system,” and that drug list prices were only part of the problem causing a health care crisis in the U.S.

“Congress and the leaders of this country need to quit putting their toe in this topic and really fix this — we have an outdated system,” Bresch said. “The patient is paying twice.”

She also called on patients to “get engaged” with their healthcare.

“People don’t understand their coverage — and how could they? It’s complicated,” she said. “This isn’t a Mylan issue. This is a health-care issue.”

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