Tag: Big Pharma

How Wisconsin GOP state legislators encouraged Mylan to increase EpiPen prices for the entire country

Thanks to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC), a group that maintains a database of political contributions to state candidates in Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin progressive group Citizen Action of Wisconsin, we now know that a political action committee (PAC) for Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that, among other things, makes the EpiPen that is used to treat severe allergic reactions, has publicly lobbied Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass legislation designed to financially benefit the company. According to records from WDC, a total of ten members of the Wisconsin Legislature received campaign contributions from Mypac WI, the Wisconsin state-level PAC for Mylan’s political operations, seven of whom are still in the Legislature, and one of whom is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission:

Legislator Name Date Contribution Received House of Legis. At Time of Donation Amount
Last First Year Month Day
Edming James 2016 July 1 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Craig David 2016 June 27 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
LeMahieu Devin 2015 November 17 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Vukmir Leah 2015 August 22 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Nygren John 2014 February 10 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
August Tyler 2014 January 18 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Kramer Bill 2014 January 13 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Severson Erik 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Steineke Jim 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Strachota Pat 2014 January 2 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Name in italics indicates that individual is no longer a state legislator as of the writing of this blog post, but was a state legislator at the time donation was received; of the three who are no longer state legislators, Pat Strachota is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Table was created using the HTML table generator available here.

Mylan has also spent a total of $66,500 since 2013 lobbying Wisconsin legislators on issues “…affecting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of prescription drugs and medical devices”, as well as on issues “relating to generic pharmaceuticals”. According to Wisconsin lobbying records, Mylan spent $42,000 and a total of 151 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2013-2014 state legislative session, and Mylan spent $24,500 and a total of 103 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2015-2016 state legislative session. In both legislative sessions, Mylan’s sole authorized lobbyist was listed as Robert Welch.

Two pieces of legislation, both of which are now Wisconsin state law, were heavily supported by, and were designed to financially benefit, Mylan: 2013 Wisconsin Act 239, and 2015 Wisconsin Act 35. 2013 Wisconsin Act 239 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” in Wisconsin public, private, and tribal schools. 2015 Wisconsin Act 35 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” “by certain authorized entities”, which include recreational camps, educational camps, colleges, universities, day care facilities, youth sports leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, businesses, and sports arenas. Neither of the two laws require Mylan to justify price increases to government officials in Wisconsin, even though the laws authorize state and local government entities in Wisconsin to purchase and maintain EpiPens at the expense of Wisconsin taxpayers. While the two pieces of legislation serve a public purpose, given that timely dispensation of epinephrine can save the life of a person having a severe allergic reaction, given that Mylan’s EpiPen dominates the marketplace for epinephrine auto-injectors, and that EpiPen prices have risen dramatically as recently as earlier this month, it’s clear to me that Mylan’s political lobbying efforts in Wisconsin are designed to financially benefit the company, as well as financially benefit the political campaigns of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin.

I do not have any food allergies that require the use of epinephrine, but many Americans in all 50 states do. I find it disgusting that A) Mylan is drastically raising the price of a very important drug/device without any real justification and B) that, because of Mylan’s actions, taxpayers are being forced to spend more money than necessary on their medicine, which many people need. Furthermore, by not including any kind of accountability measure on Mylan that would have required Mylan to legally justify any kind of price increase to Wisconsin officials, Wisconsin Republicans have effectively encouraged Mylan to raise the price of EpiPens for the entire country.

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The REAL reason why The Washington Post is smearing Bernie: it’s about those Viagra ads

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign has begun to push back aggressively against an editorial by The Washington Post that viciously attacked him for running for president and advocating for common-sense ideas to make America great again. For example, Sanders retweeted this tweet from David Sirota of the International Business Times pointing out WaPo’s hypocrisy:

However, that isn’t the real reason why WaPo is attacking Bernie. In this paragraph, one line really stood out as being something about Bernie’s proposed Medicare for All plan that would have a specific negative impact on the corporate media:

Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.

(emphasis mine)

The fact that WaPo is complaining about Bernie’s plan (possibly) eliminating direct-to-consumer advertising (keep in mind that I’ve never heard a major-party presidential candidate in this year’s election actually advocate for eliminating direct-to-consumer advertising) of prescription drugs is a dead giveaway as to why WaPo is smearing Bernie.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices is allowed in only two countries (the United States and New Zealand), and it’s a major contributor to why health care costs in America are ridiculously high. Late last year, the American Medical Association (AMA), a group representing American physicians, called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising. Obviously, such a ban would likely result in less advertising revenue for corporate media outlets, since big pharmaceutical companies pay big bucks to corporate media outlets for advertising.

While I’m not sure how much money WaPo makes off of pharmaceutical advertising, WaPo is going to bat for the corporate media in a desperate attempt to preserve the corporate media’s stream of money from the makers of erectile dysfunction pills like Viagra and Cialis.

Big Pharma’s Big Jerk ARRESTED for alleged securities fraud

Martin Shkreli, the Turing Pharmaceuticals executive notorious for raising drug prices by obscene amounts (most notably raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat AIDS patients, from $13.50/pill to $750/pill)  and being an in-your-face asshole about it, has been arrested on federal securities fraud charges:

Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who has been widely criticized for drug price gouging, was arrested Thursday morning by the federal authorities.

The investigation, in which Mr. Shkreli has been charged with securities fraud, is related to his time as a hedge fund manager and running the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin — not the price-gouging controversy that has swirled around him.

[…]

The federal charges are believed to parallel a civil lawsuit filed against Mr. Shkreli in August by Retrophin, whose board ousted Mr. Shkreli as chief executive in September 2014. In its lawsuit, Retrophin accused Mr. Shkreli of having used the company as a kind of personal piggy bank to help pay off upset investors who lost money at the hedge fund MSMB. Among the ways he did this, the lawsuit says, was by hiring some of these investors as sham consultants to Retrophin.

Big Pharma’s Big Jerk, as I like to call Shkreli, is not being charged over raising drug prices, but over allegations that he used Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company he was once the CEO for, as a piggy bank to pay off investors who lost money at MSMB, the hedge fund Shkreli co-founded. In addition to the criminal charges against Big Pharma’s Big Jerk, there’s an ongoing civil suit into the matter.

This couldn’t happen to a more deserving person if you asked for it.