Pharmaceuticals gone wild

By Larry M. Burge II

Recently, a new public outrage has hit the scene with the announcement from Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, daughter of Senator Joe Mancin (D-VA), that the price for the life-saving emergency anti-allergen EpiPen would increase from $57 to close to $700 for a two shot package. That follows a trend of massive drug price increases in the last decade, and especially the last four years, of life-saving drugs costs controlled by relatively few pharmaceutical corporations located (at least physically) in the United States.

Drugs like Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug that fights cancer and parasitic diseases and saw its price go from $13.50 to $750 overnight. Solvaldi, a drug that cures Hepatitis C and costs $1000 per pill. Insulin prices for diabetics has tripled in the last decade, Cycloserine, which combats tuberculosis, saw its costs go from $16 to $360.

Mylan CEO Bresch blames the increase on The Affordable Care Act (Obama care), despite the reporting of her salary going from 2.3 million to 15 million dollars per year, and the continuing criticism of her decision to move the corporate headquarters to the Netherlands, many claim a move to avoid US taxes. Breach’s father has decried the move publicly. Interestingly, Mylan was able to recently squash an attempt by an Israeli company to introduce a low cost version of the EpiPen with the help of the US Food and Drug Administration, which is staffed with numerous attorneys and consultants that were formerly on the payroll of major US pharmaceutical corporations.

Unfortunately, BHC no longer has a nurse on site that could administer to any student in need a dose of Epinephrine, the medication in the EpiPen, should a student find themselves in need and unable to get an EpiPen for whatever reason. Fortunately, 9-year Moline Fire Department veteran paramedic Eric Becker reports that the standard response time for the MFD to reach BHC in the event of an emergency is 3-5 minutes, and they are prepared to give any patient in need a dose of Epinephrine. Mr. Becker states that during his employment with the MFD, he has had to administer the drug 10-15 times. He also states that since the MFD does not use EpiPens, they are not affected by the massive price increase. However, he adds, the emergency services of smaller communities rely on the EpiPen and they would certainly be affected by the price increase.

The enormous price increases of many life-saving drugs are bound to affect every citizen through higher premiums for health insurance coverage and/or higher taxes. Only time will tell in any threatened Congressional investigations bear any fruit or relief of these unimaginable cost increases.