Martin Shkreli – the ‘Pharma Bro’ who hiked the price of HIV medication Daraprim by 5,000 per cent – has defended Mylan for increasing the price of its EpiPens by 461 per cent.
Mylan is facing Congress scrutiny after it emerged the price of one of its pens – which are used to stop potentially fatal allergic reactions – had increased from $56.64 in 2007 to $317.82 in 2015.
‘Mylan is the good guy,’ Shkreli told CBS Tuesday. ‘They had one product where they finally started making a little bit of money and everyone is going crazy over it.’
When challenged on whether it was acceptable to charge over $300 for a life-saving medical tool, the ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals head shrugged it off.
‘Like I said, it’s $300 a pack – $300,’ said Shkreli, who was called in to comment and is not employed by Mylan. ‘My iPhone is $700, okay?’
When CBS countered that nobody ‘needs an iPhone to exist,’ he dismissed the remark.
‘That doesn’t matter, okay?’ he said. ‘It’s $300 and 90 per cent of Americans are insured.’
In another interview with CBS, he argued that the $317.82 price tag was more cost-effective than spending thousands being hospitalized with an allergic reaction.
And he blamed insurance companies for not being more willing to spend on EpiPens, arguing it would save them money in the long run.
Shkreli also said that Mylan wasn’t making much money by business standards, and that it suffered because it was mostly focused on selling cheap generic drugs.
But that remark came the same day that the salary of Mylan’s CEO was revealed to have increased by 671 per cent since the company bought the rights to the EpiPen in 2007.
In that year CEO Heather Bresch was earning $2,453,456. In 2015 she earned $18,931,068, NBC reported.
Other Mylan execs also benefited from much-increased pay. In 2015 president Rajiv Malik’s pay increased 11.1 per cent to $1million.
And chief commercial officer Anthony Mauro began taking him $625,000 that year – an increase of 13.6 per cent.
This came after nine years spent gradually increasing the price of the EpiPen, which gives lifesaving shots of epinephrine to those suffering dangerous allergic reactions.
Prices were hiked as frequently as every second quarter, and now cost 461 per cent more than they did in 2007.
The price and pay hikes aren’t the only big figures in Mylan’s recent past. The company also increased its lobbying from $270,000 to $1.2million in 2008.
It would appear that move paid off, as in 2010 the FDA changed a recommendation that the company ship the pens two-to-a-box to just one per box.
It also said they should be prescribed to at-risk patients as well as those whose allergies have been confirmed.
These plan certainly worked out well for the company: its shares shot up from $13.29 per share in 2007 to a peak of $47.59 in 2016.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.