What You Don't Know: Pfizer’s Connection to Mylan and EpiPen

Published: Aug 31, 2016

What You Don't Know: Pfizer’s Connection to Mylan and EpiPen August 26, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Mylan NV has been the latest drug company to stick its foot in it over drug pricing. It got more than a boatload of bad PR when it raised the price of its EpiPen from $57 to almost $500 since 2007, a 400 percent increase.

What isn’t as well known is the company’s connection to Pfizer .

Although Mylan manufactures and sells the actual EpiPen device, Pfizer manufactures the drug the device administers. And although the financial deal between the two companies isn’t completely clear, Pfizer has shown increased revenues related to EpiPens for the last few years.

Pfizer picked up the EpiPen when it bought King Pharmaceuticals in 2010. Mylan, at the time, had marketing rights to the dispenser, rights it still holds.

In 2015, Pfizer reported $339 million in revenues related to EpiPen. That was an increase of 15 percent from 2015. Between 2013 and 2014, Pfizer revenues related to the EpiPen rose 8 percent. At the moment, it’s not possible to know if the increases were related to price increases or because more people were buying EpiPens.

Both major U.S. political parties have demanded Mylan turn over more information about how it sets EpiPen prices.

Meridian Medical Technologies (a Pfizer subsidiary) is the contract manufacturer of EpiPen and takes great pride being able to supply a high quality and life-saving product. The terms of our supply agreement are confidential,” said Rachel Hooper, a Pfizer spokeswoman, to the Morning Consult.

Mylan reported earlier in August that its revenues for its specialty business segment rose 27 percent in the first half of this year, and said, “higher unit volumes and the realization of the benefits of customer contract negotiations over the last several quarters,” were the cause. EpiPens are a significant component of the unit.

Pfizer is a member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Mylan is not. PhRMA has apparently attempted to stay out of the drug pricing debate, and since most of the recent political discussions have been about non-member companies, it’s been able to remain out of it. But Pfizer’s connection, albeit a bit unclear in terms of pricing, has the potential to complicate matters.

Because Mylan is not a member, PhRMA would not comment on the issue as related to drug pricing, sticking to a call for more generics.

“Innovator companies invest in pioneering research to bring new treatments to patients, and over time those medicines become available as lower-cost generic versions,” said Holly Campbell, a PhRMA spokeswoman, to Morning Consult. “With nearly 90 percent of all medicines filled in the United States with generics, their timely approval is critical to patient access and long-term sustainability of our health care system.”

Certainly one of the reasons Mylan has been able to do what they want with the price of the EpiPen is their control over the market. Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries attempted to bring out a generic version of EpiPen in 2015. Mylan filed a citizens petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the time, asking it not to approve it. The FDA eventually indicated that Teva’s generic application had “major deficiencies,” and to date, it has not been approved.

One reason that this particular issue is probably unwelcomed by Pfizer is that it just acquired San Francisco’s Medivation for about $14 billion. With the PR from EpiPen and Mylan, and the continued U.S. presidential campaign, more scrutiny is going to be focused on Pfizer. And Pfizer just picked up a blockbuster drug for prostate cancer, Xtandi, which sells in Japan and Sweden for $39,000, but goes for $129,000 in the U.S.

Steve Brozak, writing for Forbes, said, “It’s almost a forgone conclusion that Pfizer’s acquisition of Medivation and the price of Xtandi will be scrutinized in Congressional hearings later this fall.”

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