Capitol Hill could get awkward in September if the Senate Judiciary Committee calls for Mylan NV CEO Heather Bresch to testify. Bresch’s pharmaceutical company not only hiked the price of the EpiPen by 400 percent, but her father is Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
Despite Bresch’s family connection to Manchin, she is not being shielded from criticism. Lawmakers from both chambers of Congress believe that the price hike is detrimental to families who need the EpiPen to prevent life threatening allergic reactions, Bloomberg reported. Mylan used to charge $57 per shot for the EpiPen in 2007, but now they are charging over $600 for two auto-injectors.
"I am deeply concerned by this significant price increase for a product that has been on the market for more than three decades, and by Mylan’s failure to publicly explain the recent cost increase, which places a significant burden on parents, schools, and other purchasers of the EpiPen," Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) said Tuesday in a statement, adding that he has a child with severe allergies.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), who has asked the company to lower its prices, is holding an event Wednesday where he will call for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate "potential antitrust violations and deceptive and illegal trade practices," Bloomberg reported.
Manchin spokesman Jon Kott said in an email Tuesday, "Right now we don’t have any comment" according to the Washington Post.
Mylan spent about $4 million in 2012 and 2013 lobbying members of Congress to gain access to EpiPens and sponsored a group called "Food Allergy Research and Education," which encouraged schools to stock EpiPens, Bloomberg reported.
Mylan has given away more than 700,000 free EpiPen’s to schools since 2012 under a program that allows them to receive four free auto-injectors, the company said in a statement. Yet schools have to use their own funds to purchase additional pens. Mylan declined to comment on the price increases coinciding with legislation to encourage EpiPen use.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), a co-sponsor of the school bill, was critical of the price hike and called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate to see if Mylan had tried to deny competitors access to the market so they could keep increasing the price.
The House Oversight Committee could request a hearing on the price hike depending on which committee member you ask.
A spokeswoman for committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, said that as of Tuesday afternoon no hearing was scheduled. "And no comment beyond that," said the spokeswoman, M.J. Henshaw.
The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Tuesday that he wants a hearing when lawmakers return from their summer break to Washington in September.
"The recent price increase for EpiPens places a financial burden on those who desperately need this drug to prevent life threatening allergic reactions, which is why we have expressed our desire for an investigation of this issue and for the Committee to hold a hearing in September," Cummings said Tuesday in a statement.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in on the issue Wednesday in a statement, calling the price hike "outrageous."
"That’s outrageous–and it’s just the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers," Clinton said in a statement. "It’s wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them."