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Dr. David Bishai on Mylan and Pharmaceutical Market Failures

Policy Desk Editor

Yuyan Pu '20

· ​Yuyan Pu

The pharmaceutical giant Mylan has come under fire due to its recent price hike on the popular allergy auto-injector EpiPen. The EpiPen delivers a dose of epinephrine to combat dangerous allergic reactions, and is a potentially life-saving drug for the 3.6 million Americans who are prescribed it. Since Mylan acquired the right in 2007, the price of EpiPens has skyrocketed from $100 to just over $600. The steep price increase has prompted a congressional hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to ask Mylan CEO Heather Bresch to justify such action. Dr. David Bishai, a health economics professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes the current Mylan EpiPen narrative of corporate greed is a façade that diverts attention from the real, underlying issue. “It should not surprise anyone that a for-profit corporation will do what it can to secure a monopoly and exploit it,” Dr. Bishai explains. “What is surprising is that regulators who exist to correct market failures, contributed to create a market that Mylan could exploit. We have to take our eyes off Mylan and focus on the factors that have stopped competitors from entering this market with alternative auto-injectors.” Of the auto-injected devices available, Mylan’s EpiPen currently dominates ninety-four percent of the market. Companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals and Adamis Pharmaceuticals are developing their own generic versions of the EpiPen, but the FDA has rejected both applications earlier this year. Mylan has since offered its own $300 generic version of the EpiPen, but the company does not have to wait for FDA approval because it also owns the brand-name product. The current role of the FDA causes concerns for Dr. Bishai, and he calls for Congress to “help the FDA embrace a mission that includes not just molecular safety but economic robustness of the pharmaceutical markets for drugs before and after patent expiration.” Public attention should focus on such regulatory institutions that allow a company to achieve such monopolistic power instead of the rhetoric of corporate greed.

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