Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, which makes the EpiPen, knows who to blame for soaring drug prices — and it's not her company.
"EpiPen had to be the catalyst to show this window into what hardworking families are facing in the rapid rise of high-deductible plan," Bresch said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit on Thursday.
It's true — high-deductible insurance plans are on the rise, and they leave patients on the hook for a greater portion of medications like insulin or EpiPen, which is used to treat extreme allergic reactions.
It is worth pointing out that the only reason she's talking about this is that Mylan was called out in August for raising the price of the EpiPen from $93.88 to $608.61 over the last decade. It caught the nation's attention because parents were refilling their kids' prescriptions, and some found that they were on the hook for hundreds of dollars for the device.
The fury didn't end there. Bresch's compensation became an issue, as did her parents' political connections — her father is a senator, and her mother was head of the National Association of State Boards of Education. Around the same time, it was also revealed that Mylan had been accused of overcharging government programs for the device.
To Bresch, though, it's clear Mylan hasn't done anything wrong. In fact, she said all of this "will have been worth it" if it gets the US to address what's really causing people to pay high prices at the pharmacy counter.
During her conversation with Forbes Senior Editor Matthew Herper, Bresch spoke of the complexity of the EpiPen autoinjector and Mylan's efforts to increase access to it and awareness about severe allergic reactions. Bresch said Mylan has been able to reach 80% more patients since the company acquired the EpiPen in 2007. Herper countered that Mylan would then be able to make money off both the volume sold and the price increases.
Bresch said the price increases allowed for "reasonable profit."
Bresch, who has a background in lobbying, was also asked why she didn't see this outrage coming. She said that has to do with the rapid exposure people are getting to healthcare costs.
"The pharma pricing system was not built on the idea of consumer engagement," she said. "It was built … on market efficiencies. It was not built on the premise of consumerism."