I recently wrote a Huffington Post piece demanding that embattled Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, cut the price of EpiPens and resign. After days of media coverage regarding Mylan’s price gouging of the EpiPen auto-injector, Bresch finally took an interview with CNBC that could, at best, be described as a friendly exchange. There were no hard hitting questions. This wasn’t journalism; it was public relations’ version of tee-ball. I am writing again to reiterate my demand that Heather Bresch cut the price of EpiPens and resign immediately.
When Bresch finally broke her silence, it was to offer coupons and an increase in a program that gives low-income families free access to EpiPens. Coupons! I can’t make this up. This gives us more perspective on how important the systematic EpiPen price increases are to Mylan and its CEO.
Bresch and her fellow Mylan executives undoubtedly have spent dozens of hours over the past few days hunkered down in a conference room with a public relations crisis team, lawyers and other advisors. After days of public outcry over yet another case of extreme corporate greed and indifference for human life, they decided to offer us coupons.
After days of public outcry over yet another case of extreme corporate greed and indifference for human life, they decided to offer us coupons.
Heather Bresch’s comments on CNBC’s Squawk Box were a distraction. Bresch didn’t even consider cutting the price, stating, “Had we reduced the list price, I couldn’t ensure that everyone that needs an EpiPen gets one.”
Look closely at what she is actually saying in this statement that was clearly drafted with legal expertise. Bresch is saying that if she cut the price, she could not guarantee that every single person who needed an EpiPen gets one. This statement is true to the extent that if she lowered the price and even a single person wasn’t aware that they could now afford this life-saving drug, that one person might not receive an EpiPen. This statement was artfully crafted to make it sound as if Bresch has no ability to increase access to EpiPens for millions of people who need them. But Bresch knows this isn’t true. The best way to increase access to this life-saving medication is to cut the price.
Bresch also offered to increase the income threshold for lower-income families who have free access to EpiPens. This is also calculated. In my professional role, I work with many lower-income families. I know from experience that these families are the more likely to be unaware of complicated programs that may require forms, a visit to the doctor, and other obstacles. It’s often very difficult to increase awareness of programs that benefit these lower-income families. Bresch and Mylan are making an offer that appears to be more altruistic than it really is. They know that many of these families will still pay for EpiPens or go without them because they won’t have an awareness of this program and any changes to it.
You can keep your coupons, Heather! Cut the price of EpiPens and resign.
What happens when the national public outcry dies down because Mylan has appeared to appeased people just enough so that our short-term memory news cycle moves on to the next big scandal? The coupon and the program for lower-income families can be cut or eliminated altogether. And Mylan still has a virtual monopoly in the national epinephrine auto-injector market.
Why is Bresch even offering coupons and additional access to a free EpiPen program? Bresch and Mylan have lost billions of dollars in stock value in a number of days due to the negative press about their systematic price gouging. If they act quickly and quiet the national fervor, they will disappear from the national media spotlight, the waters will calm and their stock may continue to gain back those billions.
The really disgusting part of all of this? Mylan’s stock could actually gain value as a result of Bresch’s sleight of hand comments and offers to customers. The only way that real change will come to Mylan is if our nation’s media outlets - and all of us regular hardworking Americans – continue to demand price cuts and Bresch’s resignation.
The calculated response and “fixes” that Mylan CEO Heather Bresch offered people like my two-year-old daughter are further evidence of a culture of greed that employs deceit and misdirection to maintain its extortionate prices and profit margin.
The most despicable part of Bresch’s theatrical CNBC comments was that she claimed, “No one’s more frustrated than me.”
I’ll bet you your $19 million salary that I’m more frustrated than you! You can keep your coupons, Heather! Cut the price of EpiPens and resign!