Lobbyists For EpiPen Maker Included Former Clinton and McConnell Aides

Records show that Mylan spent more than $2 million on Washington lobbying in 2015.

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Tampa Bay Times/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The most expensive school supply our family purchases each year comes from the pharmacy: a new package of EpiPens to have on hand in case of a allergic reaction. So I've been following the flap over pricing the pre-loaded injection devices with more than casual interest. At first glance, the story fits neatly into the familiar framework of out-of-control greed: Pharmaceutical company CEO gets paid nearly $19 million a year while raising the list price of a two-pack of EpiPens to $600 from $100.

But the more one gets into it, the more the case of the drug company Mylan and its Washington lobbying fits some other story lines. There's the one about Washington being a revolving door, where government officials monetize their government service by going to work afterward in the private sector. And the one about Washington being a vending machine, where companies and their executives put money in by hiring lobbyists or making campaign contributions, and get favors out in the form of legislation, contracts, or regulatory decisions that protect their profits. And finally, the one about how "both sides do it"—both Republican and Democratic politicians try to shake down these drug companies, and both Republican and Democratic staffers wind up getting paid by them.

Senate lobbying records show that Mylan spent more than $2 million on Washington lobbying in 2015. In addition, the company's political action committee has distributed more than $79,500 in contributions for the 2016 election cycle, according to campaign finance records available at OpenSecrets.org.

The lobbying disclosure forms tell a remarkably bipartisan story. Mylan paid $40,000 to hire Scott Evertz, who had been director of AIDS policy in the George W. Bush administration. It paid $70,000 to the Glover Park Group; that bought the services of Joel Johnson, who is a former senior aide to President Clinton, and of Gregg Rothschild, who had been chief counsel to Democratic congressman John Dingell, longtime chairman of the House commerce committee. And Mylan paid $240,000 to a firm called West Front Strategies, whose partners include Malloy McDaniel, a former policy adviser to Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

The Mylan political action committee gave $7,500 to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer's campaign for the 2016 cycle and $3,500 in the 2010 cycle, according to the Open Secrets records. Mylan's CEO, Heather Bresch, is the daughter of a Democratic U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin; when she recently spoke with The New York Times, she listed among her top accomplishments the passage of a federal law, the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2012, requiring increased inspections of overseas drug manufacturers.

The Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, issued a statement "calling on Mylan to immediately reduce the price of EpiPens." And the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, fired off his own stiff letter to Bresch expressing concern about the price increases.

If Mylan didn't have to spend so much money on Washington politics, maybe it could afford to sell the EpiPens for less money. Or maybe if Mylan weren't spending so much money on Washington politics, other companies would have an easier time getting government permission to offer competing products.

A common criticism of pharmaceutical companies is that they spend too much money on marketing, whether it's those television commercials you may have seen while watching the Olympics or all those salesmen and women who take your doctors out to fancy dinners. The Washington component of all that is lower profile, but it adds up, too, contributing to higher medicine prices, higher health insurance premiums, and higher levels of cynicism among ordinary Americans about government and business.

Wouldn't it be nice if the way to make money in the drug business were inventing a new cure, rather than hiring a bunch of political hands to figure out how to milk the most money possible out of a medicine that already exists? I've long been convinced that the two things aren't mutually exclusive—in other words, that maximum profits create the incentives and the resources to fund innovation. Could be. But what's a scientific researcher to think when the prize for a discovery is the chance to spend $2 million a year on Washington lobbyists to defend it?

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  1. Or maybe if Mylan weren’t spending so much money on Washington politics, other companies would have an easier time getting government permission to offer competing products.

    Yeah, its the darnedest thing. Nobody but Mylan can seem to get their epinephrine self-injector approved by the FDA. Mylan still has a monopoly, even though the drug (epinephrine) is generic, and the tech of self-injectors is very well-established. The FDA came down hard on the one company that got to market over a failure rate that was (a) minuscule on a percentage basis and (b) caused no harm, and they withdrew from the market.

    1. I’ve been assured that, even though there are half a dozen EpiPen competitors in Europe, the reason EpiPens are cheaper there is because the EU has passed laws permitting them to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

      You see, it’s because we haven’t written words on paper and voted for those words that EpiPens are so expensive in America, not because of a lack of alternative product choices consumers could make. YUP YUP!

  2. I believe John’s b?te noir already had an article about this. Well, it was more about how retarded Obamacare is. Well, it was – whatever, just read it:

    Pardon my bluntness here, but screw these people. Nobody, anywhere, at any time, has ever in a moment of mortal terror cried out: “For God’s sake, is there a politician in the house?” You know how many treatments for anaphylaxis have been produced by politicians over the course of human history? Zero. Congress’s sole contribution to the existence of a handy device that keeps your children from dying from bee stings is the fact that Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of a Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

    If we were relying on the intelligence, work ethic, creativity, entrepreneurship, scientific prowess, and far-sightedness of the members of Congress to produce treatments for allergic reactions or any other medical problem, we’d still have a million people a year dying from smallpox and preventable infections. We’d also be starving to death.

    1. Nice rant. It’s true — no politician (including Al Gore) has ever invented squat or produced anything other than hot air and bullshit, and even that is only good for fertilizing more politicians.

      1. My counter to that is Benjamin Franklin, although I think it is much more fair to call him a statesman than a politician.

  3. Former Clinton aides. So it’s all good.

    1. They cannot all join the Clinton foundation.

  4. “I’m shocked. Shocked that there’s lobbying going on here.”

    1. Your winnings, P Brooks.

      1. The problem with sending PBrooks his winnings is you have to send them to so many different addresses.

  5. So, can we call Heather Bresch the Epi Lady?

  6. There’s no reason why schools should have been required to carry epi pens in the first place. They are a SELF Rescue device. A kindergartner isn’t going to inject himself.

    If the school nurse doesn’t know how to draw down an ampule of epinephrine (which costs 3 bucks), then there’s a fucking problem.

    1. If the school nurse doesn’t know how to draw down an ampule of epinephrine (which costs 3 bucks), then there’s a fucking problem.

      Yeah… reusable insulin pens are about 30 bucks – from various manufacturers. Of course the prefilled ones cost more with insulin included.

      But I fail to see how it should be so difficult to get FDA approval on a cheap epinephrine delivery device… especially when it’s a dollar a dose.

      1. But I fail to see how it should be so difficult to get FDA approval on a cheap epinephrine delivery device

        When the CEO of the monopolist is the daughter of a Senator . . . .

        Its cronyism, regulatory capture, you name it.

  7. Why would/did they spend money to market EpiPen if they’ve had the market cornered?

    Or did they spend money marketing EpiPen?

    1. None of this story really makes sense. Adrenaclick is a thing and no one seems to care.

      As best as I can tell the only reason why no one buy’s Adrenaclick is because of some fear that having to remove two caps instead of one will cause someone to die…

      1. I’ve given this subject a bit more thought.

        In my opinion, Ira is correct that lobbyists may have had a hand in preventing competition, but the numbers don’t add up unless we know exactly what the firm lobbied for.

        In Sep 2015, Bloomberg reported that Mylan spent over $35m in 2014 to market EpiPen alone. At that time, EpiPen cost around $400 per pack (of 2).

        In economics, when the price of something goes up, 1 of 2 things (or both) happens:
        (1) There is more of that something being supplied
        (2) There is less demand for that something

        I am not aware of any case in history of markets that defy this dynamic over time.

        The question is, how can the pharmaceutical company keep raising prices but demand still goes up?

        Indeed the FDA prevents/limits (1) from happening. Chances are, lobbyists did that too.
        But in my opinion, it is the 3rd party payer system that has maintained/boosted the demand for so long.

        With the insurance system, neither the patient nor the doctor has the incentive to cut cost.

        The pharmaceutical company has spent lots of money to persuade/teach doctors about the benefits/side effects of EpiPen. The doctors have no incentive to learn exactly how the generic versions function.

      2. EpiPen’s price can increase, and doctors still prescribe them. Over time, insurance companies will try to pass the cost to the patients either through high premium or higher deductibles. Of course the ACA complicates cost sharing further because insurance companies must cover everyone on everything.

        Generics of EpiPen exist. Imagine if EpiPen now cost $15k each, and the users have to pay; then people will seek out alternatives.

        Think of it this way: how much pricing power do you think Tylenol can have? $100 per pill? $10? Or $0.01?

        Indeed, without the FDA, new competitions will quicken the pace of downward price spiral.
        But instead, our current system gives us an upward spiral.

        1. I’m telling you there is an alternative. Adrenaclick is the same medication in a (very slightly) different dispenser.

          It’s not being reported, people don’t care. This appears to be a completely manufactured issue.

          1. Yes, I read that the generic versions exist.

            Doctors have not been prescribing them. They do not know the details of the drug even though the its effects and side effects should be very similar.

            It goes back to the ‘Why’:

            Why aren’t the doctors choosing a cheaper version of EpiPen?
            Why aren’t the patients asking the doctors to prescribe the cheaper alternate?

            Again, in this 3rd party payer system, nobody has the incentive to do a price check.

            With the insurance system, the cost transfer to the consumers (yes, the consumers always end up paying) is massively delayed because the cost is spread to all of the insured.

            You can then go back to history and ask why we have this ridiculous health insurance system. And you will find the Big Government being the culprit.

  8. I love how people talk about this stuff, then insist that this isn’t capitalism, it’s “crony capitlism”, as if there’s a difference.

    Fact is, this sort of nonsense is just folks trying to maximize their profits while minimizing their expenses. They’re doing it anyway they can, whether it’s cutting corners, buying off politicians, or muscling out competitors. Get rid of regulators, and you’ll get more blanket attempts to muscle out and push around competitors. Get more regulators, more attempts to control the process. A utopian “free market” where people exclusively compete based on the merits of their product is impossible.

    1. How is your argument even logical.

      In a free-market system, you’d pay more for the same thing?
      In a free-market system, if the profit of something is so fat, you (or someone) wouldn’t jump in to grab some of that fat profit?

      Free market is a profit AND loss system. If you can’t compete, then you end up shutting the business.

      Only cronyism can FORCE people via the government to pay more for the same thing
      Only cronyism can therefore take the LOSS out of Profit and Loss for the ‘chosen ones’

    2. There you go babbling inanities….again.

  9. Break Mylan up into 5 companies each with FDA approval to produce the epipen.:

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  12. josephdenicola.com You should read the blogs. I could have saved you some time. You might want to look into the history of David C Rich. He had been the big lobbist for them up until 2011. I have followed this since my son passed away due to food allergies back in 2014 on Halloween. I am an advocate in the community of the 15 million effected. I have researched and blogged to educate them, as we do. I have to say, the overall truth is being covered up as I see it. This is largely part of the agenda underway. If many are not brought to understand what caused this, since 2006 Hillary Clinton, should herself understand that I will not give up until the karma is set upon her. You might want to spend sometime reading the research I started to expose slowly since I do not want to place the parents into shock that no matter what level of congress this hits, it is going no where. She was hired trained and made to handle the pressure of being a spokes person, as well trial to answer the questions. She will take the fall , dad and his friends will make that it was all looked at and they will all be drinking by the pool side. The laws of karma they are not above and that is an area that I know beyond the Freemasons themselves. Wrong drug to make a mess, see now I am here! Not smart at all for any of them…. I pray for all that hold the truest intentions and WILL (93), but I will stand to oppose those that do harm.

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  14. that’s good in my opinion . the product should not be overpriced .the companies keep bragging about their products and when the people look their price they get disappointed Playstore

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