The incredible price hike of EpiPen — a lifesaving epinephrine auto-injector designed to reverse an allergic reaction — has consumers and lawmakers outraged, so much that some have called for action on Capitol Hill. But things might have taken an ethically problematic turn, given that the CEO of the pharmaceutical company responsible for the nearly 500 percent price increase since 2007, Mylan, has some serious political connections. So, who is Mylan's CEO Heather Bresch? The 47-year-old chief executive is the daughter West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
The Democratic senator's daughter is the first female head of a large pharmaceutical company and made a name for herself in the business by turning the EpiPen into a billion-dollar product. At Mylan, according to The Chicago Tribune, Bresch started out at the bottom in a low-level position in quality control in one of the company’s factories, and is now earning a $19 million salary. She even made it on Fortune Magazine’s list of the "50 Most Powerful Women In Business" in 2014.
Now, the CEO of the generic-drug maker company based in Pennsylvania has found herself and the company's pricing practices in hot water. This isn't the first time Bresch has overseen drama in the business, of course. Except this time, the issue hits consumers on a financial and personal level.
In an interview on Thursday with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Bresch was questioned about why Mylan needed to hike the price of EpiPens so steeply, but struggled to deliver an adequate answer that would justify its gouging retail cost of more than $600.
"No one’s more frustrated than me," Bresch said in the CNBC interview on Thursday. "Everybody should be frustrated. I am hoping that this is an inflection point for this country. Our healthcare is in a crisis." Throughout the nearly 20-minute interview, she continued to break down the pricing of the EpiPen, while pointing to pointing to an "outdated" health-care system.
On Thursday, according to CNN, Bresch’s father, Sen. Manchin, also responded to pressing questions from lawmakers regarding the concerning price increase over the last decade.
"I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking and frankly I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs," Sen. Manchin said in a statement on Thursday, according to CNN. "Today I heard Mylan's initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions."
Mylan spokespersons did not immediately return Romper's request for comment.
Unfortunately, EpiPen's price hike trajectory is far from uncommon in the pharmaceutical industry. But, thankfully for consumers who desperately depend on the device, according to Mylan's statement, the company is offering $300 discount cards, expanding eligibility of its discount program, offering direct sales to patients as well as providing schools with free product.
While the company's efforts to lower costs to make EpiPens more affordable is a step in the right direction, much more still needs be done, addressed, and reformed to make healthcare accessible for everyone.