The most recent example: the EpiPen price hike, which New York Times Well’s Tara Parker-Pope reported on yesterday.
- “The EpiPen price rise has garnered widespread media coverage and led to intense scrutiny of its maker, the pharmaceutical company Mylan, and its chief executive, Heather Bresch.”
- “While the price of the EpiPen did not increase overnight, data show that Mylan had been steadily increasing prices, first by about 10 percent, twice a year, but more recently in about 15 percent increments. This summer, as parents bought EpiPens for summer camp and back to school, many were paying higher out-of-pocket costs because of high deductibles and co-payments imposed by their insurance companies.”
- “Bernie Sanders weighed in on Twitter as he shared a story from NBC: “There’s no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600.” It was retweeted 8,789 times and reached nearly 2.8 million people, according to CrowdTangle, a social media tracker.”
- “By Monday, the story of overpriced EpiPens was in full force, covered by numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today and NBC’s “Today” show. Senator Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, demanded an explanation from Mylan for the price increase. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, who has a daughter with allergies who carries an EpiPen, called for both a Judiciary Committee inquiry into the pricing and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.”
- “Patient advocacy groups, which typically are vocal on all issues related to food allergies, have been largely silent. Some of the most prominent groups — Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy & Asthma Network — have partnerships with Mylan for patient awareness campaigns and other programming. The groups are not required to disclose how much money they receive from the drug company; but Mylan, in its 2015 Social Responsibility report, lists all three as “allies.”
- “Since 2011, Mylan says, it has provided more than $10 million in funding for “educational efforts,” such as sponsorships and grants, and has received corporate citizen awards from FARE and the Allergy & Asthma Network. While the groups have not taken a prominent public stand on the issue, all three say they have been working behind the scenes with Mylan to expand its assistance program to help families obtain EpiPens at a lower out-of-pocket cost.”
Even if these groups are working behind the scenes, the absence of public outcry is very telling and, very likely, a direct result of their financial ties to Mylan.