EpiPens and Congress: It's Time to Fix the Real Problem

I have my watch set to see when the real work is going to start. Now that we not only have the nation’s attention, Congress is finally listening. The true story is about who is going to fix this national crisis?

September 21, 2016 is going to go down in my personal history book as the best online live stream watching to date! There were dramatic accusations, rage, disgust, confusion, misinformation and phrases that I can't get out of my mind. I cheered, I laughed and was depressed. I was in the dumps because I was not watching a day time drama television show, but the reality of The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Reviewing the Rising Price of EpiPens. Unfortunately, this was real life unfolding before my eyes as the House Oversight Committee grilled Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch and the Food and Drug Administration, Deputy Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Doug Throckmorton, in a bi-partisan effort to find answers about why EpiPen prices sky rocketed. Words like  "juice" replaced epinephrine, "rope-a-dope strategy", "no substance" and  "lawyered up" were used.

Broken up into two sessions (scroll down for video links), the hearing was affirmation that we have more than a broken system on our hands. We have several trains speeding out of control with no conductor in sight. The issue surrounding over-priced medications creating a barrier to patient access is not just an EpiPen problem. It is a national health care crisis and includes countless other drugs.

I was shocked at how furious the various Representatives were, even though they stated on record that they support a free market.They were upset that Mylan pushed the envelope of the very system they believe in. Let’s get honest, if we truly believed mankind would do the right thing all the time, we would not have laws in place.

As much as I have scoffed at Bresch's ridiculously high salary, I felt she earned some of those $$$ as she was drug through the ringer for hours as anger, outrage and disgust was flung squarely at her. When I saw the photograph in the New York Times piece, of Bresch surrounded by hoards of photographers while testifying, I thought to myself, "well, that is why you earn the big bucks".  

My personal belief is that almost all conversation can be civil, so as much as I was entertained by some of the comments made, I was disappointed with some members of Congress. I felt some members were laying on the drama rather thick in an effort to demonstrate their repugnance, as if they were saying, "hey constituents, look at me, I'm doing my job", rather than being better prepared with valuable questions. I don't want to give away the statements to deter from your experience in watching the videos below, but folks were on social media comparing their favorite comments from members of Congress.

Nevertheless, I felt the hearing was basically a mash-up of Bresch avoiding questions and not having clear answers. The FDA trying to answer but sometimes missing the mark and very frustrated members of Congress, trying to find out specific information regarding pricing decisions. I was busy sending twitter messages to several Representatives who expressed dismay with stock epinephrine law. I simply forwarded Allergic Living Magazine's piece, "Activists Fear Backlash Could Harm Stock EPI Access, Leave Students Vulnerable" and my piece about the late Nevada State Senator Debbie Smith, "Protecting People with Life Threatening Allergies: Remembering Senator Debbie Smith". I was disappointed to see lawmakers not having access to information regarding the current epinephrine laws which save lives and were created after too many children died. Big Pharma or not, these laws were needed.

I applauded Representative Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts when he brought up Bresch showing us what is wrong with our health care system.  Finally! Someone in Congress who gets the entire system is a train wreck and Mylan is only one example of many. Yesterday, it was Valeant and Turing on the hot seat and today is Mylan. Who is coming tomorrow? Our free market system it is not working within the drug industry. My family's asthma medications are out-of-control as well. Maybe GlaxoSmithKline is next?

These problems will continue as long as we have a Congress that allows them to fester. I believe it is that simple. If our society's goal is to make as much money as possible, then why are we shocked when people do it? I wish everyone would have high ethical standards, but the harsh reality is that they don't. Big corporations need guidelines. They just do.

I'm sad that our country is in this ridiculous position, but inspired that sometimes you need to knock down the castle to rebuild something better.

US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform PART 1

US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform PART 2