The EpiPen Scandal Is Worse Than You Think: What You’re Not Being Told

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Alice Salles via,

The EpiPen is a useful device for individuals who suffer from severe allergies. So when news broke that Mylan, the sole maker of the autoinjector “pens” in America, had hiked the prices of its products from $57 each in 2007 to $600 for a package of two in 2016, news outlets had a field day.

Promptly after, politicians seized the opportunity to bank on this crisis by promising to “do something.”

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton urged Mylan to voluntarily slash the prices of its products while promising that, once she’s elected, her plan to address exorbitant drug price hikes like these” will be finally implemented. This is a particularly empty promise considering Mylan has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which was recently revealed to be peddling influence in exchange for cash.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are also pressuring the manufacturer to disclose more about its pricing. Even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) — whose own daughter, Heather Bresch, serves as Mylan’s CEO — weighed in, claiming he, too, shares his colleagues’ “concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.”

But none of what these politicians are saying rings true to anyone who’s paying attention. Here’s why.

The Monopolistic Origins of the EpiPen

The autoinjector known as the EpiPen provides injections of epinephrine in cases of serious or even life-threatening allergy attacks. It is derived from another product known as the Mark I NAAK ComboPen, a device created for a monopoly: the U.S. military.

The device was designed by Sheldon Kaplan for Survival Technology, Inc., a company with a long history of working with the Pentagon. Once the ComboPen was created, it was sent to the U.S. military to treat soldiers who had been exposed to nerve agents.

In 2007, Mylan “purchased the generic drugs division of Germany’s Merck KGaA for $6.7 billion,” acquiring the EpiPen brand of autoinjectors. Under Merck, the devices cost $7 each, which resulted in just $200 million in gains each year, a mere 5 percent of Merck’s revenue at the time.

But Bresch saw potential in this simple plastic device and focused on how to make the newly purchased brand something that could be widely used. For her dream to come true, she needed the assistance of experts in the monopoly business. That’s when she turned to the U.S. government for help.

The FDA, Washington, and Crony Capitalism Are All to Blame

Though the EpiPen is not covered by patent protection, Bresch’s close relationship with Washington may have helped her company ensure competition wasn’t an issue.

In an article for the Mises Institute, Jonathan Newman writes that Mylan has been repeatedly protected from competition, and it has repeatedly (and predictably) increased the price of EpiPens in response.”

According to Bloomberg, Mylan has been aggressive in its approach to regulators.

For the past seven years, Bresch has been “[turning] to Washington for help. Along with patient groups, Mylan pushed for federal legislation encouraging states to stock epinephrine devices in schools.”

In 2010, when the FDA launched new federal guidelines related to epinephrine prescriptions, Mylan stopped selling single pens, switching to twin-packs. Bloomberg reports that, at the time, “35 percent of prescriptions were for single EpiPens,” but as the new rules were implemented, Mylan “changed label rules to allow the devices to be marketed to anyone at risk.” While the guidelines targeted persons who had severe allergic reactions only, Bresch saw the rule changes as “big events that we’ve started to capitalize on,” she said in October of 2011.

After a seven-year-old died due to an allergic reaction to peanuts at a Virginia school, Congress passed a law pressuring states to ensure its schools had epinephrine devices on hand at all times. The year this bill passed, Mylan spent over $1 million in lobbying alone. Now, Bloomberg reports, “47 states require or encourage schools to stock the devices.”

As part of the EpiPen popularization plan, Mylan started handing out “free EpiPens to more than 59,000 schools” in 2012. In 2014, the company allegedly spent $35 million on TV ads, and in 2015, Mylan signed a deal with Walt Disney, stocking theme parks and cruise ships with the devices. Between 2012 and 2015, the company also spent over $6 million in lobbying.

Over the past seven years, Bresch’s persistence and power-driven attitude helped the company spread the EpiPen far and wide, causing its use to grow 67 percent in the United States. EpiPen prescriptions are now so common that pediatric allergist Robert Wood from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says EpiPen is the new “Kleenex.”

But making the EpiPen so popular wasn’t an easy task, mostly because Mylan finally bumped into some competition along the way.

Competition Drives Prices Down — And Mylan Wasn’t Down with That

In 2009, Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drugmaker, and Mylan sued Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over a patent-infringement. At the time, the Israeli company was accused of using Mylan’s design without permission. But in 2012, both parties reached an agreement, and Teva was allowed to seek approval from the FDA for its epinephrine injecting device.

According to Gizmodo, Teva has failed to obtain approval from the FDA to develop affordable generic versions of the EpiPen. The company says it won’t try to go through the same process again until 2017.

The only other device that was closer to competing with Mylan’s EpiPen was Auvi-Q, and it was also driven out of the market. In 2015, the company launched a recall campaign claiming the devices could be delivering faulty dosages.

Epinephrine is extremely cheap,” reported Jonathan Newman. In order to understand why Mylan was able to raise the prices of EpiPen, we mustn’t look at the device or drug. We also cannot blame the markets for this issue. Instead, we must look at how Mylan keeps competition at bay.

In a free market scenario, “[a] firm cannot just willy-nilly raise their prices without a competing firm leaping in to give consumers what they want at a lower price,” Newman explains. But in the real world, “Mylan has a great friend who keeps would-be competitors out of the market, or at least makes it so difficult for them that they eventually go out of business.” Mylan’s friend, in this case, is the FDA — a government agency.

Without the ability to pay corporations any favors, Washington power players would not be passing resolutions and pieces of legislation that benefit Mylan. In order to understand why Mylan’s monopoly over the EpiPen has driven the prices up, we must look at the system at hand.

The current environment favors this influence game played by both government officials and corporate drones, but ultimately, the consumer pays the price for their follies. And that’s why few members of the mainstream media are taking the time to explain this relationship. Mostly because, they too, are involved in this systemic influence scheme.

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Infocat's picture

This entire system needs to be dismantled!

nibiru's picture

So politicians got money, passed the law and now EpiPen is everywhere.


Kids, watch and learn! It's easier to buy a politician than to compete. Remember - ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT.

Looney's picture

Who needs a lobbyist when you have your own father-senator pushing the Bill through?

I hope they show on TV Joe Manchin playing a piano-wire on a lamppost in DC.


nibiru's picture

They paid Clintons some cash so everything is legit and working well.


A perfectly executed plan.

gmrpeabody's picture

As far as I am concerned, we may need to install many more lamp posts in Washington DC...

nibiru's picture

I'm sure we can crowdfund them with initials already on them. 

froze25's picture

Big pharmaceutical money paid to big new media advertising prevents any real coverage of this in the MSN'S , thank God for the alternative media and the "alt-right" people for keeping us informed.  Trump 2016

Pure Evil's picture

Being conspiracy minded, I have to wonder if Mylan didn't raise the price of epipens so that Hillary could get up on her soapbox to nag about the cost of prescription drugs.

Notice how Hillary uses generic statements and doesn't target Mylan or Bresch outright, only encourages them to lower prices......

and now the soapbox portion of our political reality TV show: "once she’s elected, her plan to address exorbitant drug price hikes like these” will be finally implemented."

Why do I think she colluded with Mylan and Bresch, other than the contributions to the Clinton Foundation, is that Bresch's father is non-other than a US Seanate Democrat from WVa.

I also recollect her involvement with Martin Sshkreli and her clarion call to do something about drug prices, and we all know how that worked out.

You'd think people would think twice before working with Hillary on such an outrageous plan to help get her elected, but as the drug cartels say, take the silver or take the bullet.

Anopheles's picture

They raised the price to milk the last few dollars of profit becasue competitors are going to be flooding the market in about a year or so.

This happens with all drugs as they approach the end of their patents.    For the epipen it isn't patent protection that's expiring, it's just competitors that will have approval and dilute their market share. 

Manthong's picture

But I bet Hillary gets those EpiPens by the pallet load for free.

813kml's picture

Doctor's orders, Hillary is deathly allergic to honesty.

MANvsMACHINE's picture

Maybe Assange can dig up some emails sent between Manchin and the FDA.

Manthong's picture

“Doctor's orders, Hillary is deathly allergic to honesty.”

On the other half of the pallet, they will be loaded with valium.

BuddyEffed's picture

Just more of "doing God's work" in practice and not anywhere close to Christian theory/principles.

Manthong's picture

This is good.. I hope he helps collapse Mylan’s market.

One Fire Department EMT Has Already Outsmarted The Cost Of EpiPens

Turner devised a prepackaged “kit inside a zippered pouch, that contains a small vial of epinephrine, and a syringe,” reports Salt Lake City’s KUTV. He then lobbied for it’s approval with the Utah Health Department and got his kit approved for EMT agents to carry and administer. The price of Turner’s device is just $3.50 which is in stark contrast to the over $300 EpiPen.

stacking12321's picture

yes, exactly.

and you don't have to be an EMT to get it cheap, anyone can order it online with a prescription:



PTR's picture

The light will burn her from the inside out if she comes in contact with it.

Oh wait, that's what's been happening.  Thank you alt-media.

ParticularlyStupidHumanoid's picture

POP QUIZ! "In which country is Kiev?"
<-- Russia

<-- Ukraine

Stainless Steel Rat's picture
Stainless Steel Rat (not verified) Anopheles Aug 27, 2016 2:45 PM

How the fuck can epinephrine be patentable?!?!?  It is a common and simple chemical produced by the human body.

Phil Free's picture

Epinephrine is not patentable. The delivery mechanism -- the "pen" injector -- is.

Stainless Steel Rat's picture
Stainless Steel Rat (not verified) Phil Free Aug 28, 2016 1:30 AM

You upvote his shit?  Fuck everyone!

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Yes, and this pen injector mechanism has the unique property of reverse economies of scale: the more you make of them, the more expensive they get!

Joe Davola's picture

At best Mylan plays fast and loose - their HQ in the garden spot of Canonsburg (the most radioactive town in the US) is situated right next to the sewage treatment plant.  Luckily they scored a great deal on the land from the partner of one of their directors.   Land where the home for wayward and mentally challenged used to stand  - watch Silence of the Lambs, when Clarice visits Hannibal at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the exterior shots are of the Western Center, now Southpointe Phase II.

Handful of Dust's picture

I'm surprised Obama and Pelosi have not mandated that every American buy this and have one of these at home or pay a tax penalty!

Hype Alert's picture

I do wish they would stop putting an R by Susan Collins' name.

Nobodys Home's picture

That would make a wonderful public art installation in DC.

Theosebes Goodfellow's picture

~"I'm sure we can crowdfund them with initials already on them. "~

There is no need to go to such expense. The closest one will do.

The real horror of this story isn't Mylan, it's that all of the pharmas are doing this. The costs get past on to the hospitals, who pass it on to the insurance companies, who pass it on to the patients. It's all a big fucking racket, up until it hits the 6 year old with a bee sting that kills them. It makes you wonder what Manchin feels about his daughter these days. Maybe disgust and pride? Maybe he got a complimentary pen to fight off his shock.

August's picture

>>>we may need to install many more lamp posts in Washington DC

A ten-kiloton airburst (lunch time, while Congress is in session) would be a convenient time saver, though.


Seriously folks, I would never, ever advocate the violent overthrow United States Government.

But I do pray for justice... which amounts to exactly the same thing.


Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

What is being done is it's non-violent overthrow!

Dugald's picture



So many necks.....

                           so few lamp posts...

813kml's picture

This is just another example that the glass ceiling is alive and well in corporate America.  Heather Bresch is being persecuted because she is able to fuck over Americans just as well as her male peers.  The USA has a long way to go on equal rights for women.


*** lame MDB impression ***

Implied Violins's picture

Speaking of Heather Bresch, has anyone seen this? The bitch just got hospitalized by bee stings!!

The law of Karma really DOES work! (um, as long as you aren't a banker or politician)

EDIT: just saw that it's actually satire, but one can wish, right??

ConnectingTheDots's picture

In reality if this ever happened to heather Bresch, her father would pass laws against passing any laws against the bee killing neonicotinoids.

Paul Kersey's picture

This should come as a surprise to no one.  After all, Big Pharma created and financed Obamacare.

Crash Overide's picture

They paid Clintons some cash so everything is legit and working well.

 A perfectly executed plan.


Paid the Clinton's for influence to make sure the FDA didn't approve any other competitors so they could be the sole profiteers and set the price.

Old Pecksniff's picture

A pair of Epipens sell for $195 in Canada.  $600 in U.S.  Our politicians are really corrupt.

Itinerant's picture

In Europe you can get them for about $20 for the injector or the epinephrine dose. There are different suppliers, but the prices are the same, because the sale and distribution is controlled and regulated; besides, the costs are passed on to the insurance. So those are not free market prices either, but the costs are not to manufacture, mainly regulation, etc.

onewayticket2's picture

Where are the investors who took it in the shorts when the cronies squeezed them out of business?


I'm sure CBS news will be all over their story....especially if it's like obama's GM dealership scandal when the majority of dealerships closed were Republican donors  many with solid, profitable businesses.

chunga's picture

This is a yuge litmus test for tRump. If he's legit he'll bash these cronies and promise a major shake-up at FDA along with anti-trust prosecutions. This is criminal. We've heard all about the wall.

Here2Go's picture
Here2Go (not verified) chunga Aug 27, 2016 10:43 AM
"Scandal Is Worse Than You Think: What You’re Not Being Told..."



Joe Manchin (aka "Daddy")


"The device was designed by (((Sheldon Kaplan))) for Survival Technology, Inc., a company with a long history of working with the Pentagon."

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Forget bee stings.

What you are not being told is that it is essentially impossible, now, for private individuals in the USA to purchase DuoDote® Auto-Injector (atropine and pralidoxime chloride injection), at any price, even physicians and pharmacies.

It seems that Uncle Sam is buying 100% of the market.




For the treatment of poisoning by susceptible organophosphorous nerve agents having anticholinesterase activity.


This product is only available for use by United States military personnel.


DuoDote is used in the presence of life-threatening poisoning by organophosphorous nerve agents.



Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in chemical weapons attacks in Syria during the five-year civil war, according to a report that highlights the uninhibited ferocity of the conflict.


“This means that the world knows that chemical weapons will be used against us again and again.


“What we need most is not antidotes – what we need is protection, and to prevent another family from slowly suffocating together after being gassed in their home,” he added.


“Chemical attacks are used strategically to cause civilian displacement in Syria,” the report says. “The fear caused by these silent and unpredictable weapons causes civilians to flee in larger numbers than in the aftermath of conventional attacks.”

I know a thing or two about herding animals.


"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

14.  Read Animal Farm, by George Orwell.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Can we expect a False F(l)ag to occur?  Why else deny the Pop. the Rx?

My tinfoil hat is buzzing.

HopefulCynical's picture

Well...don't stick your head in the microwave...

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

See?  Buying only one asset (PM) isn't everything, as some here come across, who are too fixated on this one asset.

I advocate: 1. Balance. 2. Perspective. 3. Resiliency for anything that TPTB throw at us -- which takes a f*ck of a lot more than just PM.

That's why I keep harping on the need to have a broad and comprehensive Prepper/Resiliencey MASTER Plan that covers/includes:

   > Clinic & Pharma Plan (Rx and OTC items)

   > Water Plan (collect, process, store).  Not all water needs to be drinkable (e.g. toilet water).

   > Food Plan (grow, store food.  Sundries, fresh, frozen and preserved items)

   > Energy Plan (for heat, electricity, transport)  

   > Security Plan (G&A, network of Allies, Friends, Family, Resilience & Lifeboat types)

   > Mini Gen. Store (Hygiene and Cleaning Products, HW, Tools...)

   > Financial Plan (cash, PM, select paper, income streams from Barter, Skillls, IP, Rent...)

   > Evacuation Plan (when you just gotta to leave town, the region, country or continent)

I believe that "Chance favors the prepared".  Everyone else can keep taking Hopium (aka Prayium) pills, and see what Fortuna (laws on Nature and human nature) has in store.

True Blue's picture

One more thing to loot off the bodies of dead GESTAPO.

44magnum's picture

Say What!!! That explains the monopoly.

Here2Go's picture
Here2Go (not verified) 44magnum Aug 27, 2016 1:21 PM

For Fucks Sake People ~ Almost 100% of the time it's like the "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon"


But when the avenue has to do with corruption & profiteering, usually you only need to bother to go 1 or 2 degrees to figure the motive out...


&, in response to the Looney comment <above>

Who needs a lobbyist when you have your own father-senator pushing the Bill through?


As always, FOLLOW THE MONEY...