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EpiPen Maker to Finally Pay $465 Million for Ripping Off Taxpayers

EpiPens are the very lifebloods of people with severe, life-threatening allergies, and it’s fair to say that those who need them are basically held hostage to whatever their maker, Mylan, charges. Mylan has been raising EpiPen prices for years, while receiving benefits from government reimbursement programs through Medicaid and Medicare.

Mylan has now agreed to pay $465 million in penalties for overcharging the government by misclassifying its drug as generic, when it wasn’t. The thing is, originally, they were supposed to pay nearly three times that, Gizmodo reports.

With so many children, especially, suffering with allergies, EpiPens are standard fare in homes, schools, backpacks, and even glove boxes in vehicles. They literally can mean the difference between life and death to someone who inadvertently consumes a food they’re allergic to, or who is stung by a bee. The reasons for all these allergies — including the fact that our current food system is heavily treated with crop chemicals, are another story for another time, but the one common thread here is the rising prices of EpiPens.

EpiPen sales brought in $1.2 billion in 2015, the culmination of a 461 percent price increase from 2007 to 2015. During that same period, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch enjoyed a 671 percent increase in total compensation, from just under $2.5 million in 2007 to nearly $19 million in 2015. The kicker is that the cost of epinephrine in an EpiPen is about $1 but the list price for a two-pack is over $600 in the U.S. — and this is outrageous.

With EpiPens becoming unaffordable even for many people with health insurance, the number of preventable deaths from anaphylaxis in people with allergies could also rise. It would seem that U.S. allergy advocacy groups would be chief among those speaking out against Mylan's price gouging, and demanding that consumers be compensated along with the government, but such groups have been remarkably silent, possibly because of the financial support they get from Mylan — and that is almost criminal.
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