Mylan (MYL - Analyst Report) CEO Heather Bresch responded to questions from the House Oversight Committee Wednesday as Congress continues its probe into the company’s price hikes on EpiPens. Despite their usual partisan gridlock, members of Congress united to absolutely grill Bresch over the scandal.
Bresch attempted to explain to the House committee that Mylan made less than $100 on a standard two-pack of EpiPens, which retails for nearly $609, but the representatives didn’t buy her logic, especially when she refused to admit that her company raised the price of the medication in an attempt to make more money.
Ms. Bresch was also seemingly unprepared for many of the committee’s questions; the embattled chief executive didn’t come with the information about the company’s revenue and patient assistance programs that Congress previously requested.
The Roast of Heather Bresch
Both Republicans and Democrats took Bresch’s appearance in Congress as an opportunity to skewer her and her company for their pricing strategy that saw the cost of EpiPens increase by over 400% in just a few years.
“I am a very conservative and pro-business Republican, but I am sickened by what I’ve heard,” said Rep. John Duncan, a Republican from Tennessee.
Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, questioned Bresch about the company’s EpiPen4Schools program, which is currently the subject of an antitrust probe in New York. Duckworth questioned Mylan’s decision to make schools sign non-compete agreements, calling the practice “an unfair monopoly.”
Duckworth also mentioned that schools were unaware that the president of the National Association of State Boards of Education, which pushed state governments to mandate that schools keep EpiPens in stock, was actually Bresch’s own mother (also read: Mylan CEO's Mother Pushed Schools to Buy EpiPens).
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland likened Mylan’s conduct to that of Martin Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals.
“After the hearing, you know what he called us? Imbeciles. You know why he said that? Because he knew he would go back and do the same thing. So he took his punches—he rope-a-doped us. Even worse, he took the Fifth,” Cumming said in reference to Shkreli’s congressional testimony earlier this year.
Another visibly upset lawmaker was Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah. Chaffetz seemed baffled when Bresch attempted to argue that Mylan doesn’t actually make that much profit on the drug.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Chaffetz said. “This is why we don’t believe you.”
Rep. Eleanor Norton, a Democratic delegate from Washington D.C., also called Bresch’s personal income into question.
“What have you done to earn this 671% increase?,” she asked, referencing Bresch’s salary increase and stock gains since taking over as Mylan chief.
Wednesday’s hearing was the second time this week that Congress put its partisan rivalry on hold to gang up on a corporate CEO. On Tuesday, a Senate committee roasted Wells Fargo (WFC - Analyst Report) CEO John Strumpf for his role in the company’s fraudulent account’s scandal (also read: Wells Fargo CEO Grilled By Congress).
With this year’s rather contentious election continuing to heat up, I don’t expect Congress to be getting along much longer.
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