Mylan CEO Heather Bresch gave testimony at a hearing Wednesday afternoon by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform over the sharp price hike for the EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector since the company acquired the product in 2007. The EpiPen is used for treating anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said that the EpiPen isn’t optional for people who suffer from such severe allergic reactions.
“Here’s the concern … The actual ‘juice’ [epinephrine] that’s in here [the EpiPen] costs about a dollar. But the price of this has gone from roughly $99 for one to more than $600 for two in a very short amount of time,” Chaffetz said in opening the session. “So we’ve got a lot of questions.”
In her testimony at the hearing, titled “Reviewing the Rising Cost of EpiPens” and held in Washington’s Rayburn House Office Building, Bresch noted how Mylan has expanded access to the EpiPen and helped make it more affordable to those who need it.
“It may look simple, but it is actually quite complex. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, the more than 15 critical component parts in this device must work every time, in seconds, to deliver medicine to treat life-threatening symptoms quickly and without fail,” Bresch said. “For millions of families, the presence of an EpiPen auto-injector in a purse, briefcase, backpack or medicine cabinet is a source of enormous comfort and an invaluable insurance policy against a potential tragic event.
“It troubles me greatly that the EpiPen product has become a source of controversy,” she added. “I understand the focus of this hearing is primarily about our pricing of EpiPen auto-injectors. I’m prepared to address that issue in depth. At the same time, the issue of EpiPens has two equally critical dimensions: price and access. With the current focus on pricing, I’m very concerned that the access part of the equation is being minimized.”