Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch is desperately trying to control the public relations disaster created by her company’s decision to jack up the price of the life-saving EpiPen drug by 450 percent over the past 12 years. In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Bresch insisted that “no one is more frustrated than I am” about the price increase, which she said was necessary to cover all the marketing and distribution costs that are needed to make the drug more widely available. CNBC interviewer Brian Sullivan also pointed out that the American Medical Association has said that EpiPens are the same product that they were in 2009, and thus nothing justifies such massive price hikes.
“Look, as I’ve said before – there is not a single person on the planet that is more upset about what’s going on than I am,” Bresch repeated. “But at the end of the day, we have to face the facts. And the fact to the matter is that we can’t put a price on anyone’s life even if we wanted to. And if we could, that price would literally be astronomical. So, when it’s all said and done, the price didn’t go up because we wanted it to; we didn’t do it to increase our profits. Who do you think we are, oil barons? We’re in the business of saving lives, not milking our customers for unnecessary profits, we’re not like that.”
She also argued that in the event someone wanted to actually attach a price tag to the life of a sick child, “it would be immoral to make that price tag a cheap one.” “Although it looks very complicated and sinister and unjustified, it’s not. You just need to look at it form a different perspective and it will make perfect sense,” Bresch said. “It’s like this: if you were to have a cheap drug that could save the life of your child, how much would you value your child’s life? Would you say pretty high? Exactly. So, the value of one’s life doesn’t change, it’s always priceless. And it makes perfect sense that the tools you use to help children should be equally valuable.”
“Try to think of it in terms of owning something extremely valuable, like say, an expensive exotic car,” the Mylan CEO continued. “Now, if something were to go wrong with that car, you’d want to fix it. And because you value your car immensely, you’d need to change the part that’s gone wrong with an equally well built and, consequently, costly component. So, if an engine or suspension part gets broken on your exotic car, you don’t just go out and buy a replacement part that’s cheap because it was manufactured in China. No, you either import it from the manufacturer directly or buy it in the good, old United States. Because what’re you’re essentially purchasing that way is not just a new part – it’s peace of mind. And it’s the same with our drug.”
“Surely you don’t want to send your child off to school with a Chinese-made EpiPen and hope for the best. Because if, God forbid, your kid actually needs to use it, who knows if it will get the job done, if it’s good enough or not. On the other hand, when you buy an expensive drug, you know it’s going to work because no one in their right mind would set a price that high and still sell you something that doesn’t work. Because, that’s just not how business works. And even though my company was founded with the purpose of helping people, at the end of the day, we’re still a business and we need to stay one if we intend to keep on helping,” Bresch concluded.