-- The chief executive of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes the $600 EpiPen allergy treatment, defended her company’s pricing policies in an interview published today in The New York Times, saying, “I am running a business.”
CEO Heather Bresch has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks over the soaring cost of the company’s popular epinephrine injector, which is used to help counteract life-threatening allergic reactions. The drug has risen in price to around $600 from about $100 in 2009, according to medical literature and GoodRx, which lists drug prices at various pharmacies.
But Bresch made no apologies for such pricing: “I am running a business,” she told The New York Times. ”I am a for-profit business. I am not hiding from that.”
Mylan has priced the EpiPen to recover the company’s investment in the product, she told the newspaper.
But even her own father, a U.S. senator, has weighed in on the onslaught of criticism over the EpiPen.
"I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking, and frankly, I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said Thursday in a statement. “Today I heard Mylan's initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions.
"I look forward to reviewing their response in detail and working with my colleagues and all interested parties to lower the price of prescription drugs and to continue to improve our health care system."
The company did not immediately respond today to ABC News’ request for comment.
But in response to the widespread criticism, Mylan Thursday promised to expand a discount program for the medication.
The company released a statement saying it was taking steps to reduce the cost of the EpiPen for uninsured or underinsured users by, in part, providing a savings card to offset the cost by up to $300.
"We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter,” Bresch said in the company's statement Thursday. “Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them. However, price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today's actions.”
The company Thursday said that it will issue a savings card to cover up to $300 for the EpiPen two-pack — 50 percent of the full retail price — and that it will change the eligibility for its patient assistance program to double the number of people covered.
That action, Bresch told The New York Times, would help customers in a way that has the biggest impact: by cutting what they spend out-of-pocket.
Some say, the Times reported today, that her brash leadership has helped patients get the medications they need and improve drug standards.
“I think we mean what we say: You can do good and do well, and I think we strike that balance around the globe,” Bresch told the newspaper.