18 September 2016

Speaking of Looters

In response to outrage over price gouging (sound familiar?), Mylan Pharmaceuticals is lobbying for an additional subsidy for their EpiPen:
Against a growing outcry over the surging price of EpiPens, a chorus of prominent voices has emerged with a smart-sounding solution: Add the EpiPen, the lifesaving allergy treatment, to a federal list of preventive medical services, a move that would eliminate the out-of-pocket costs of the product for millions of families — and mute the protests.

Dr. Leonard Fromer, an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, just promoted the idea in the prestigious American Journal of Medicine. A handful of groups are preparing a formal request to the government. And Tonya Winders, who runs a patient advocacy nonprofit organization, reached out late last month to crucial lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“We can save lives by ensuring access to these medications,” said Ms. Winders, chief executive of the Allergy and Asthma Network.

A point not mentioned by these advocates is that a big potential beneficiary of the campaign is Mylan, the pharmaceutical giant behind EpiPens. The company would be able to continue charging high prices for the product without patients complaining about the cost.

An examination of the campaign by The New York Times, including a review of documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, shows that Mylan is well aware of that benefit and, in fact, has been helping orchestrate and pay for the effort.


The journal article says it was “drafted and revised” by a medical writing consulting firm paid by Mylan, in consultation with Dr. Fromer. And Dr. Fromer himself has served in the last year as a paid Mylan consultant — which he discloses as part of the journal article. The company has also contributed money to many other groups behind the effort, and it has met with them — and Ms. Winders’s organization in particular — to coordinate its strategy, the participants said.


The idea being advanced is simple: If the EpiPen makes the federal preventive list, most Americans would have no insurance co-pay when getting the product. That means they could obtain the medication with no direct cost, regardless of its retail price. Mylan could keep the EpiPen at the current price, or perhaps raise it more, while keeping patient anger at a minimum.


But a review of Mylan’s lobbying history makes clear that the company has an exceptional track record at influencing government policies, both in Washington and in state capitals. Heather Bresch, Mylan’s chief executive, called the effort “our unconventional approach to growing this franchise” in remarks to Wall Street analysts last year.
Her "unconventional approach" is based largely on the fact that her father Joe Manchin (D-WV) is a US Senator.

Mylan gives money to Ms. Winders’s organization to help expand treatment for severe allergies. She would not say how much the company has given, or the exact terms, citing a confidentiality agreement. But part of that money is related to this push, Ms. Winders acknowledged.

“I am being compensated to ensure access to epinephrine,” Ms. Winders said in an interview last week.
Manchin is facing reelection in 2010.  He needs to be seriously primaried.

What's more, if there is a way to take Mylan, down, and better yet put its management in jail, that should be pursued as well.


Post a Comment