Home / Top Story / Pharma CEO’s mom helped boost EpiPen sales with education group

Pharma CEO’s mom helped boost EpiPen sales with education group

The price of EpiPens have jumped by over 500% since 2007.

The price of EpiPens have jumped by over 500% since 2007.

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 8:55 PM

A giant drug company under fire over the price of EpiPens received a sales boost with the help of an education group led by the CEO’s mother, a report revealed Tuesday.

The price of the lifesaving Mylan product for severe allergic reactions jumped by over 500% since 2007 to $ 608 for a two-pack of the injector devices. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch will testify Wednesday at a Congressional hearing on “justified outrage” from families and schools.

And an investigation by USA Today showed Bresch’s mother and the wife of Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Gayle Manchin, helped the devices become required at schools nationwide during her time as president of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Both Mylan executives and officials with the nonprofit education denied any ulterior motives. Yet a former executive director at the Association told USA Today that Gayle Manchin once mentioned that her “daughter’s company” might donate to the group.

AG Schneiderman probing EpiPen maker’s school contracts

“It just looked so bad to me,” said Brenda Welburn. “She becomes president and all of a sudden NASBE is saying EpiPens are a good thing for schools.”

Mylan donated at least $ 25,000 in 2012 and $ 15,000 this year to the association, according to USA Today. The 2012 gift happened months before the group announced a new program “in collaboration with” a Mylan division about Epinephrine, the drug in EpiPens.

“It is essential that state and school policies ensure access to epinephrine auto injectors and training of school personnel to respond in a timely manner to students with life-threatening allergic reactions,” then-NASBE executive director Jim Kohlmoos said in a statement at the time.

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Gayle Manchin and her husband, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), pose in a May 2014 photo. A report revealed that Gayle Manchin encouraged schools to keep EpiPens on hand while president of an education nonprofit.

(Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

A discussion guide released by the group in November 2013 outlined the dangers of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction to food, medication, insect stings or other triggers. Epinephrine “is the only first-line treatment in all cases of anaphylaxis,” the guide said.

NYC Controller Scott Stringer slams Mylan for EpiPen price hike

Current executive director Kristen Amundson told USA Today that Mylan executives didn’t “engage in behavior to cause our members to question why” the donations were accepted.

Representatives for Mylan said in a statement that its sponsorships “focused on initiatives to raise awareness and understanding of anaphylaxis and encouraged policies that supported greater access.”

“There is no truth to the suggestion that the company’s efforts were anything but straightforward or that we are aware of anyone advocating inappropriately for the right of schoolchildren to have access to potential life-saving medicine.”

Gayle Manchin, who no longer serves as NASBE’s president, didn’t respond to USA Today’s requests for comment. Her husband has rejected any notion that his work as West Virginia’s governor and later senator crossed paths with that of his daughter at Mylan.

Protesters gather in NYC to show outrage over EpiPen price hike

“We make a point ever since I’ve been in this position, and when I was governor, we made a point, we just didn’t get involved. It’s so convoluted. I don’t understand,” Joe Manchin told Bloomberg earlier this month.

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Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a congressional hearing on the EpiPen price hike.

(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“To get into something you don’t understand and your daughter being in this type of industry it was best I stayed away.”

Other far more influential voices joined the education nonprofit in pushing for EpiPens in schools. President Obama signed a bill in November 2013 the White House called the “EpiPen Law” to provide a preference in asthma treatment grants to states where schools keep EpiPens on hand.

“It is a promising day for millions of children and families who live life just one mishap away from catastrophe,” senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote in a blog post when Obama signed the law.

Mylan started offering a cheaper generic and enhanced patient assistance programs that cut the price of EpiPens to little or no out-of-pocket costs for most customers. The company has provided over 700,000 free EpiPens to 66,000 schools.

With News Wire Services.

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