Here's Legislation That Would Prevent The EpiPen Price Increase & Monopolies Like It
Parents of kids with extreme allergies weren't surprised to hear and see the headlines that the price of an EpiPen had skyrocketed over the last few years. The reason? A monopoly allowed Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen, to set almost any price it chose and still maintain its customer base. Is there legislation that could prevent the EpiPen price increase and monopolies like the one that made the EpiPen price controversy possible? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has already laid the groundwork.
Mylan released a statement clarifying its position:
People in the Unites States pay more than any other nation for prescription drugs. Part of the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that prices for drugs in the U.S. are "shrouded in mystery, obscured by confidential rebates, multiple middlemen and the strict guarding of trade secrets."
And this mystery and confusion within the system is exactly what Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC on Thursday "frustrated" her too about her business:
She continued to offer her own observations about what's driving up the price of drugs: "My frustration is there's a list price of $608," Bresch. There are "four or five hands that the product touches and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter."
Now that the EpiPen pricing controversy has brought the issue to the public's attention, perhaps this is an opportunity to pass legislation that would improve transparency, boost competition, and, as a result, drive down prices.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them for policy recommendations to outlaw the conditions that created the EpiPen price issue, according to the Morning Consult:
But Klobuchar and others only need to look to legislative propositions from Sen. Bernie Sanders for answers.
On his site, Sanders suggests several legislative fixes to the problem, including dropping a ban against Medicare leveraging its huge buying power to negotiate lower prices with drug companies. He also wants to beef up competition by making it easier to import cheaper drugs from Canada.
Sanders slams EpiPen maker: 'Very wrong' to value profits over lives https://t.co/u5GyCeOh06— Bharat Manghnani (@bmangh) August 25, 2016
EpiPens currently cost more than $600 for a 2-pack here in the U.S., but just around $100 in Canada, according to CKOM. This is something Sanders has advocated for many years. According to BernieSanders.com:
Sanders also recommends increasing pricing transparency through legislation that would "Require drug companies to publicly report information that affects drug pricing," according to his site.
The problems that led to Mylan's ability to gouge customers have been around for years, and there is legislation that could be passed to fix the system. The only question is whether the attention brought to the issue through this EpiPen pricing uproar will create the political will to make it happen.