Capitalism is not to blame for exorbitant rise in price of EpiPen

Epipen

The price to cash-paying customers for EpiPens is up some 600 percent to 700 percent over the past decade, with cash customers paying as much as $840 for a two-pack – though coupons are available that would bring the price down to around $650. (Hoping to dampen criticism and head off congressional hearings, Mylan announced yesterday it would begin offering a savings card to reduce the cost by as much as $300.) This is for a $2 ($4 for a two-pack) dose of medicine – a medicine available in Canada for about $100 without a prescription.

So EpiPen maker Mylan is coming under the scrutiny of the congressweasels – although that scrutiny has been tempered by the revelation that Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Over the last several days, Senators Chuck Grassley, Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal and Representative Elijah Cummings and others have called for information, investigations and explanations from and of Mylan. Klobuchar and Blumenthal are calling for price fixing – a form of collectivism that always fails and leads to shortages and more corruption.

If that’s where they’re looking, they’re looking in the wrong place.

In the years 2012 and 2013, Mylan spent about $4 million lobbying Congress and the Food and Drug Administration. The result is a defacto monopoly on epinephrine injectors. The FDA’s rules require companies with competing injectors to exceed the specifications required by Mylan, and so far the FDA has killed or stymied almost every potential competitor that’s come along. One epinephrine injector allowed into the market is dubbed “inferior” and rarely prescribed.

In 2013 Congress passed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act that provides schools with financial incentives (read money from the federal treasury) to stock epinephrine injectors in case of emergency. The approved injectors are EpiPens, of course. The primary lobbying group pushing the bill was the group Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The primary corporate sponsor of FARE is Mylan.

EpiPens have an FDA-mandated one-year expiration meaning, whether used or not, patients are cowed into tossing their old ones in the trash and replacing them and the doctors write new prescriptions each year. The government, through Medicare and Medicaid, pay whatever Mylan decrees the price to be, sans applicable deductibles.

Government meddling in the insurance market – first simply through the regulatory process and via Medicaid and Medicare and now through Obamacare – has completely distorted the pricing structure of health procedures, physician charges and pharmaceutical prices.

In fact, government meddles in the price of everything through the obscene regulatory structure, the tax structure, via subsidies and price supports and corporate welfare, all of which drive up the prices of products and services. This is especially true of most of the foods you buy: from sugar to rice to chicken to raisins.

America is not a capitalist system and has not been for more than 100 years… nor is there one in existence much of anywhere. What there is is a marriage between big government and big business. It’s called fascism – or it was in Italy. And now we have the same thing.

It is state capitalism or monopoly capitalism and, with only very small variations, the whole world is on this system.

Bureaucratic tyranny is as bad in the U.S. as it was in fascist Italy, national socialist Germany or communist Russia. It’s just more sophisticated and the media and the public (non)education system has sold it as democracy and capitalism.

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