Mylan CEO: 'Misconception' about EpiPen profits

The CEO of the drug maker that sells the EpiPen treatement is expected to defend the company's controversial pricing strategy in Congressional testimony Wednesday.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said there's a "misconception about our profits" in connection with EpiPen, according to a copy of her prepared remarks to be delivered when the House Oversight committee meets at 2 p.m. The emergency allergic reaction injection treatment now costs $608 for a two-pack, up from about $100 in 2009.

Gradual price hikes have fueled a whirlwind of bipartisan disgust directed at Mylan as outrage grows over pharmaceutical companies that reap exorbitant profits on life-saving drugs.

"I know there is considerable concern and skepticism about the pricing," Bresch says in her remarks. "I think many people incorrectly assume we make $600 off each EpiPen. This is simply not true."

Bresch said the company receives $274 per two-pack after rebates and fees are deducted. When factoring in "our cost of goods" and other "related costs," she said the company reaps a profit of $100 per two-pack.

She called the perception of a windfall "understandable, and at least partly due to the complex environment in which pharmaceutical prices are determined. The pricing of a pharmaceutical product is opaque and frustrating, especially for patients."

She has no plans to apologize, if her prepared remarks are any indication, though she says: "Looking back, I wish we had better anticipated the magnitude and acceleration of the rising financial issues for a growing minority of patients who may have ended up paying" full price. "We never intended this. We listened and focused on this issue and came up with a sustainable solution."

That included rebates for certain patients and a recent plan to introduce a generic version of EpiPen for $300 per two-pack.

Her perspective is unlikely to assuage the committee members, who have heaped an unusually bipartisan chorus of criticism on Mylan over the EpiPen matter.

“There is justified outrage from families and schools across the country struggling to afford the high cost of EpiPens," committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a joint statement. "Our goal is to work together to ensure that critical medications, like the EpiPen, are accessible and affordable for all of our constituents.”

Bresch said Mylan deserves credit for educating Americans on the danger of anaphylaxis, particularly to children who could die without access to the treatment, and for distributing the drug for free to thousands of schools. Some 85% of EpiPen users pay less than $100, she said, although critics say that cost is simply passed along to insurers, who then pass the cost along to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

"Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance," Bresch said.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


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