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FDA Approves Teva’s Generic of Mylan’s EpiPen

The EpiPen — which injects a dose of epinephrine to someone in a life-threatening allergy attack — has a competitor. Drug giant Mylan has held the purse strings to the drug for years, and raised the prices for it to astronomical levels to the point that, besides breaking the pocketbooks of those need the pens, overcharged the U.S. government so much that the company had to pay back $465 million to the feds. Ironically, Mylan created its own generic competition, but Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an outside generic made by Teva Pharmaceuticals, Reuters reports.

Who doesn’t remember the EpiPen fiasco, when Mylan CEO Heather Bresch pocketed a 671 percent increase in her income while her company raised the list price of the pens to $600? This, when the cost of the pen is only about $1. Since most of the EpiPen’s price increases had occurred within just three years, it was quickly determined that Mylan was probably trying to rake in as much as possible before a competitor hit the shelves.

The reason Mylan could get away with it as much as they did was because they held a monopoly on a product that literally means life or death for some people. That they had to pay back some of their inflated pricing was only slightly satisfying, though, as this example was only one of many. For example, you may remember how Martin Shkreli, former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, crucial for AIDS patients, from $13.50 a tablet to $750 per tablet.

There’s also the case of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which hiked the price of a once-daily form of Wellbutrin, a 30-year-old antidepressant, to $1,400 a month despite the existence of a $30 generic, and which also refused to lower prices on the millions of dollars that hospitals pay for its life-saving heart medicines.

To its credit, Congress has been paying a little more attention to the most egregious offenses like these, but we must do more to stop not only the overpricing of necessary drugs, but to remove the liability shields protecting Big Pharma from being able to shape the definition of drug “safety.” To that end, drug industry representatives sit on the boards of major TV and print news outlets, shaping and sometimes blocking reporting on drug safety and effectiveness.

With school starting back up, and with the annual back-to-school vaccination pushes, I can think of no better example than the vaccine industry when it comes to shielding industry by removing their liability when it comes to harms caused by their vaccines. No industry should ever be allowed to escape accountability in a civil court of law in front of a jury of our peers when profit-making products injure and kill people — but a federal law gives that escape specifically to vaccine companies.

Not only that, at a time when most people know somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again, the public-private partnership between industry and government is moving to strip citizens of the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking. Laws are being passed that eliminate the right for Americans to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief — and as schools across the country restart, so are state governments that determine these laws.

Therefore, I urge you to pay attention to what the National Vaccine Information Center has to say on this, and to actively monitor what’s happening in your state when it comes to your rights and vaccines. Legislators are formulating proposed bills right now. Don’t leave drug safety in Pharma’s hands: Whether it’s a lifesaving injection for someone struggling to breathe or a controversial vaccine that could mean injury and even death for some, you need to be your own advocate. Be active and contact your legislators about this. Demand accountability from drug companies, as well as a choice when it comes to what’s being injected in your and your child’s body.

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