I saw a photo of you on Fox News Insider’s page where it appeared you were sitting in your office. Directly behind you hung your bulletin board, where I saw photos of, what I’d suspect to be your children.
The background of my office is quite like yours, with a bulletin board adorned with photos of my daughter and her precious artwork from second grade.
I don’t know you well, and certainly don’t know your family, but I have learned that you are the CEO of Mylan, and your annual salary has skyrocketed. As NBC reported, when you made the executive decision to raise the price of EpiPen’s —a total of 671% (between the years of 2007 and 2015), your salary went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,086 in 2015.
Most people receive salary increases of 5% each year, if they’re lucky, but apparently you felt like you deserved a 671% salary increase. As a woman, I normally applaud other females for making strides in the workforce and breaking the glass ceiling, however, not if it comes at a cost to human lives- for instance, my child’s life.
That’s right, my daughter, like many other children and adults, has a life-threatening food allergy. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with what that means, you know, seeing you’re the CEO of Mylan, the drug company that manufactures EpiPens. Hell, you lobbied Congress on the importance of stocking EpiPen’s in every public school not too long ago! I know you know the importance of the life saving drug that is known as the EpiPen.
However, maybe you aren’t familiar with anaphylaxis directly? Maybe you’ve never heard the wheezing, or the shallow breaths of a four year old whose throat is slowly closing? Maybe you’ve never sat anxiously by the front door awaiting paramedics to take your child to the hospital while every bone in your body shook, as you held your blue-lipped baby in your arms, praying to God that she’d be okay.
Maybe none of the beautiful children on your bulletin board behind you have allergies that result in horrors that so many others endure? Maybe you’ve never witnessed it first hand?
That can be the only logical explanation I could come to, because how on Earth could a human being, a mother much less, raise the price of a drug that’s sole job is to SAVE LIVES so high that families like mine are no longer able to pay for it?
This is an e-mail I received from my daughter’s school nurse yesterday:
August 24, 2016
Description: Good Morning Mrs. Alteman,
We are still awaiting an EpiPen and the Medical Authorization form for your daughter, Haydan. Our records show that her EpiPen’s in the cabinet has expired. Please send in another at your earliest convenience so we may have it to properly treat her in case the need arises.
The Nursing Staff
We used to pick up our EpiPen’s at the pharmacy for $25.00 after our insurance covered a portion of it. Now, we are left to pay $300.00 WITH INSURANCE.
Did I mention that the school requires that they have two on hand (their own box) at all times? I’m sure this has something to do with one EpiPen potentially failing, and I don’t question their motives because I know what they are: to keep my child ALIVE if she is ever exposed to an allergen that can take her life in a matter of minutes.
If the school needs two EpiPen’s and my home needs a box of EpiPen’s, do you know what that cost comes to? $600.00 to fill a prescription. Is my child’s life worth $600.00? Absolutely. However, when I went to pick up her prescription from the pharmacy, I was not expecting a co-pay of $600.00. To be honest, I didn’t even have $600.00 in my bank account at that moment, so I put it off. What other choice did I have?
I am not the only one who has to make this choice. Do you know that, unlike you, many American’s don’t even make $600.00 a week? You should jump off your nineteen-million dollar stack of cash and check out the view down here. The real world where parents are paying insane insurance premiums to maintain coverage, and are blindsided at the pharmacy by big pharma companies like yours when a $600.00 co-pay flashes on the cash register screen.
So, I have a question for you, Ms. Bresch: Is your nineteen million dollar a year salary worth that? And, by “that,” I mean the honest fact that is there are thousands of families around the United States that simply cannot afford to spend $600.00 on EpiPens?
Let’s play out a hypothetical situation: Johnny is 5 and started Kindergarten this year. Johnny is deathly allergic to peanuts. The school has a peanut rule, and does it’s absolute best to keep them out of the classroom. One of his best friends, Sam, sits next to him at lunch and her favorite snacks are oatmeal cookies. Sam’s mom packs them for her every day, but on one Tuesday afternoon, their local grocery store was out of her usual brand, so she replaced them with a different brand that were made with peanut oil. Sam always splits her cookie with Johnny- except this time, Johnny goes into anaphylaxis, and because his parents couldn’t afford to spend $730.39 (retail price without insurance) on EpiPen Jr.’s, Johnny dies in the nurse’s office before the paramedics even make it to the school.
How does that make you feel? Is your nineteen million still worth it?
I am a business owner myself. I understand that the bottom line matters, I understand that the point of being in business is to make a profit. However, I also believe that greed is one of the most destructive traits in human beings. There is no logical explanation you can give for raising the price of a drug by over 400%, a drug that costs literally a dollar per dose.
Clearly, you are a smart businesswoman. You lobbied to have your product placed in all public schools, which the Federal Government complied, Congress passed the bill, but then you went and hiked the price of the product so high that many families are crossing their fingers, toes, and praying to every saint they know that their child does not cross paths with someone eating a PB&J sandwich. How unbelievably sad is that? These are CHILDREN, for Christ’s sake!
I hope this widespread outcry about this issue pushes you to a place of deep contemplation; one where you can see clearly that the lives of the human beings you share this planet with are worth more than your pile of money.
*Edited to Add: The day this article was published, Mylan released that they were not adjusting the price of the EpiPens, but adjusting the savings with their “My EpiPen Savings Card.” My pharmacy informed me that an EpiPen Jr. 2-Pak is $730.39 without insurance, however, seeing my family does have insurance, I can apparently now qualify for a $300 coupon savings towards my co-pay. While that may sound like good news to those who are commercially insured, it is not to those whose families rely on federal health care programs.
As The Washington Post explains: “…the savings card cannot be used by people without insurance or by people who are in government-funded health programs. The cards are not allowed in federal health care programs because they are considered a kickback: Companies use the discounts to incentivize patients to buy a product while leaving the federal government on the hook for the remaining cost of the drug.”
In short, what does this mean? It means that (for the commercially insured) insurance companies are now left to kick in the remainder of the cost less our co-pay, likely resulting in premium hikes each year. Covered California is expected to rise 13% this coming year alone— and we wonder why. It also means those who are insured by any state or government funded insurance program (or not insured at all) are still left with a huge dilemma of how to access life saving treatment.
As a nation, we are waiting for you to fix the mess you made with this greedy cash grab at the expense of human life. We are holding our breath in anticipation, in hopes that our children can continue to breathe freely, even in the face of life threatening allergens. We need a shot to save our children’s lives and you need a heavy dose of reality – maybe a two-pack even.
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