Martin Shkreli got the opportunity to pontificate about Mylan Labs using its monopoly on epinephrine to increase the price by 500 percent. Shkreli was widely vilified for doing the same thing last year when he was the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Martin Shkreli paid $55 million for the U.S. rights to Daraprim then increased the price of the 50-year-old medication that treats a rare but deadly infection that patients with suppressed immune systems (i.e. lupus, AIDS, malaria) are susceptible to by 5,000 percent overnight. That move took the price from $14 to $750 per pill.
In between his Harambe memes and lengthy Periscope videos, the alleged securities fraudster has dedicated some of his Twitter rants to baiting news outlets into interviewing him about the EpiPen price increase. CBS News took the bait, giving Shkreli the opportunity to defend Mylan’s move, which he calls “good business,” and wishing he had taken a page from Mylan’s book and gradually increased the price tag of Daraprim instead of all at once. Had he done so, he believes he wouldn’t have received the backlash that resulted in his current legal problems.
Martin Shkreli backs EpiPen CEO who hiked price of life-saving tool from $57 to $318 https://t.co/0QUvQTJ45f
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) August 24, 2016
“Mylan is the good guy. They had one product, and they finally started making a little bit of money and everyone is going crazy over it,” said Shkreli. “Like I said, it’s $300 a pack. $300. My iPhone is $700…. It’s $300 and 90 percent of Americans are insured.”
Martin Shkreli said that the $300 price tag is a bargain compared to what it would cost for an emergency room visit or ambulance ride to treat a severe allergy attack. Contrary to his beliefs, one still needs to seek emergency medical attention even after administering an epinephrine shot and it says so on the EpiPen auto-injector.
The hosts pointed out that when you are talking about life or death, there is no bargain, but Shkreli says that insurance companies should be willing to pay every dime of the costs because it keeps their costs down and anyone that has an issue paying that price should be on Medicare. He went on to say that Mylan has shareholders that need to make money and his sympathies are squarely on the side of Mylan, their shareholders, and their families and that excessive pricing is what is funding research for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Today, I am so thankful companies like $BIIB made their medicines so expensive. I have several friends with MS who have a great prognosis.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 22, 2016
What about some consideration for the company, its employees and shareholders? https://t.co/utFrN67meI
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 20, 2016
Robyn O’Brien founder of AllergyKids Foundation says that peanut allergies have quadrupled between 1997 and 2010, most likely because of the antibiotics and GMOs that have been introduced into our food supply. She told Fox News that she saw a receipt from a New Hampshire parent for $834. When Mylan bought EpiPen the cost was $57.
“That same mom could cross the border at Canada and get that same two-pack for $125. The difference is that the EpiPen is licensed in Pfizer in Canada,” said O’Brien.
A year and a half ago, the Pittsburgh-based pharmaceutical — whose CEO is Heather Bresch, the daughter of West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin — was able to pull off a tax inversion after buying Abbott Labs in 2015 for $5 billion, then moving Mylan’s headquarters to the tax-friendly country of the Netherlands.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump blasted the corporate loophole that enables a corporation to move its headquarters’ to a foreign country with a lower tax rate while maintaining operations in the U.S., thus enjoying the benefits of taxpayer-funded services in the U.S. Congress closed that loophole shortly thereafter, reports Fox News, but the outcry and outrage over Mylan’s gradual EpiPen increase has been loud enough for Congress to get involved and may be looking further into the tax inversion as a result.
EpiPen has brand name recognition and has been donated to schools and widely prescribed by physicians, ensuring its familiarity. With no significant changes in the medication or device design, consumers and medical authorities are questioning how an injector filled with approximately $2 worth of the hormone epinephrine is worth $300 per shot. Teva Pharmaceuticals attempted to produce a generic form of epinephrine but was rejected for major deficiencies by the FDA, and O’Brien told Fox News she is suspicious.
“There is no competition. They have a monopoly. The barriers to entry are really high and right now there’s a low-cost alternative trying to work its way through the FDA. I’ve been in this for 11 years. We’ve seen Twin-ject come and go, Auvi-Q (by Sanofi US) come and go. Auvi-Q was recalled because of 26 unconfirmed reports. There needs to be an investigation into how (Mylan) has been able to maintain this monopoly that it has and yes, these are life-saving devices but they can come in a lot of different forms and a healthy marketplace means healthy competition.”
Martin Shkreli also took the time to defend himself against the impending securities fraud charges relating to Retrophin Inc., a biotech firm he founded in 2011 — and has since been ousted — which prosecutors say was a Ponzi-like scheme, and that he raided his former company for $11 million to pay off clients and then tried to hide his ownership in the company.
Martin Shkreli has pleaded not guilty to eight counts, including conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud which he calls “absurd” and he has “no fear” of being indicted. No trial date has been set for Shkreli or his codefendant attorney Evan Greebel, but a trial is expected to take place in early 2017.
Mylan issued a statement earlier blaming insurance companies, co-pays, and deductibles for the price increase and offered coupons of $100 for the device.
[Photo by Seth Wenig/AP Images]