Heather Bresch, CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan, came under public scrutiny for raising the price of lifesaving EpiPens more than four times in less than a decade.
Mylan acquired rights to EpiPens in 2007 and since then has been implementing a series of price hikes that have inflated the cost of the drug from approximately $56 to $320 — a whopping 461 percent rise in price. A standard two-pack of EpiPens now cost between $600- $700.
Meanwhile, Bresch went from being the chief operating officer to president to chief executive and witnessed her salary rise from a paltry $2.5 million to almost $19 million, which is a staggering 671 percent increase.
I carry my #EpiPen for an idiopathic allergy that could happen at any moment. A trip to the ER is now cheaper. HOW CAN THIS BE??— Shira (@shiraselko) August 24, 2016
Grandchild w severe allergies needs life saving #Epipen. Cost has soared. Luckily we can pay the $600. Impossible for many scared parents— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 23, 2016
Members of Congress are in a sticky position as they demand an explanation for the abhorrent price hike. Bresch might be called to Capitol Hill to provide justification, but things can get a tad awkward — because she is the daughter of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
Bresch’s connections to Capitol Hill have already having some lawmakers tiptoeing around the issue.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Bresch in a letter on Monday to explain the shocking price increase, but later refused to talk about the prospect that she might soon be testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When Bresch got promoted to chief operating office in 2007, Mylan pointed out she has an MBA degree from West Virginia University, which she claimed she received in 1998. However, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper investigation in 2007 revealed that not only did Bresch never earn the degree, but she did not even complete all the required coursework.
Her father Manchin was the governor of West Virginia at that time. The university, which received more than $20 million in donations from Mylan’s founder, soon retracted its statement, claiming Bresch had completed all the requirements for the master’s degree, except for paying a $50 graduation fee.
The incident made headlines at the time because in addition to her father being governor, the school’s president, Mike Garrison, was a close family friend. Bresch remained CEO but Garrison and a several other administrators resigned from their position following a no-confidence expression from the students and faculty.
That’s not the only controversy involving Bresch. Last year, Pennsylvania-based Mylan merged with a company in Netherlands, in a transaction known as “tax inversion.” Bresch said it was a defensive move against a possible takeover, but it provided a major advantage to the pharma company by significantly lowering its tax liability.
Tax inversion is extremely unpopular with the American public and very few companies have had the nerve to attempt it. Congress members, including her father, are extremely opposed to such tactics, claiming they undermine the country’s economy.
Mylan, under the leadership of Bresch, has hiked prices of not just the EpiPens but several other products as well, according to a June report by Wells Fargo. The company raised the prices more than 20 percent on 24 products and more than 100 percent on seven products, according to senior analyst David Maris.
Some of the drugs whose prices were inflated in the past half a year included Ursodiol, a drug used in the treatment of gallstones, whose price was increased by 542 percent, and Dicyclomine, a drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome, whose price was increased by 400 percent.
The contrast between Bresch’s extravagant lifestyle to other families has come up again and again. While many companies have stopped or at least limited the use of company aircrafts for personal business or asked executives for compensation, Mylan has continued to allow Bresch to use one.
Earlier this year, her corporate jet use cost $310,312, including both her business and personal trips.
Looks like profit is the only thing driving executives like Bresch and Martin Shkreli’s moral compass.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters