Sarah Jessica Parker Ends Relationship with Mylan Over EpiPen Price Hike

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker will apparently no longer serve as a paid spokesperson for the Mylan pharmaceutical company amid price-gouging accusations with the EpiPen anti-allergy injectible.

An EpiPen two-pack reportedly now costs about $600, an increase of more than 500 percent in eight years. In response to the controversy, Mylan now says that it will try to help families with their out-of-pocket costs for the medication that treats severe allergic reactions.

The CEO of Mylan is Heather Bresch, 47, the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Senator Manchin himself has raised questions about the huge EpiPen price increase. In a statement, Manchin asserted that he shared the concerns of parents and his fellow lawmkers “about skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs” and that he will be reviewing Mylan’s response in detail.

The Sex and the City star, 51, became involved with Mylan, which was founded in West Virginia but is now headquartered in the Netherlands for tax reasons, because her son has a life-threatening peanut allergy, and the EpiPen has become “a vital part of our family’s heathcare,” she wrote in an Instagram message today.

Parker went on to say that she is cutting ties with the company because the price hike is cost-prohibitive for many families

“I’m left disappointed, saddened and deeply concerned by Mylan’s actions. I do not condone this decision and I have ended my relationship with Mylan as a direct result of it. I hope they will seriously consider the outpouring of voices of those millions of people who are dependent on the device, and take swift action to lower the cost to be more affordable for whom it is a life-saving necessity.”

Sarah Jessica Parker’s image still appears on Mylan’s Anaphylaxis101 website at this writing, however.

CEO Bresch’s salary increased 671 percent from 2007 to 2015, and she now takes home about $19 million per year, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“That period coincides with the time when Mylan acquired the rights to EpiPens and steadily hiked the average wholesale price from about $55 to $320. A standard 2-pack now costs between $600 to $700…The contrast between Bresch’s lavish lifestyle…and those of ordinary families struggling to afford the drugs her company sells is a theme that has come up again and again.”

Mylan, which reportedly collects 40 percent of its drug-making revenue from the EpiPen alone, announced today that it will provide rebate coupons to consumers to cover some of EpiPen costs, the Wall Street Journal explained.

“On Thursday, after politicians, physicians and lawmakers criticized the price of EpiPen, Mylan offered to provide more financial help to patients, saying it would cover their insurance out-of-pocket costs up to $300, from $100 previously. It also said it would expand the number of low-income patients eligible to receive company subsidies. But the company didn’t roll back EpiPen’s high list price.”

Heather Bresch was on CNBC for 20 minutes today to respond to the furor over the EpiPen price increase. Among other things, she blamed the EpiPen sticker shock on a broken, outdated system that “incentivizes higher prices.”

“I understand better than anyone that facts are inconvenient to headlines. And why I’m here today and why I want to change this conversation, like I said, first of all, so everyone has access,” she told CNBC, adding that the company has distributed 700,000 free EpiPens to public schools. She also declared that “no one is more frustrated than me” over the high price of the drug.

“The EpiPen delivers a shot of epinephrine, a synthetic version of adrenaline, for which the patent expired long ago. Mylan’s special ingredient is the hand-held delivery device that allows users to easily inject themselves in an emergency,” the WSJ explained.

[Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]

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