Members of Congress grilled the CEO of the company that makes the EpiPen, a life-saving device for people with severe allergies. In the last 10 years, the price of the EpiPen has skyrocketed while the company's profits and its executives' salaries have soared.
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told Mylan CEO Heather Bresch her company "jacked up the price of a life-saving product for no discernible reason other than to get filthy rich at expense of our constituents."
CEO Heather Bresch deflected blame Wednesday for a price tag that has ballooned from less than $100 in 2007 to more than $600 in 2016. Bresch asserted insurance companies and high deductibles are partly to blame, but members of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform were unconvinced.
Whoever is to blame, parents in East Tennessee say they are the ones stuck paying an exorbitant price for a product that protects the lives of their children.
"There's certainly frustration," said Kristy Altman, whose son has a peanut allergy.
Altman said they have fortunately never had to use the EpiPen on her 7-year-old son, Jackson. But they still have to buy new pens every year because the product expires.
"We take one of the EpiPens everywhere we go," said Altman. "I have one, my husband keeps one, and the school keeps one. But we went to get it refilled for school and at the pharmacy they said, 'That will be $390.' That was after the pharmacist tried to find as many discounts as she could. We checked to see if there was some change in our insurance, but there wasn't. With our insurance, we were paying nothing for the pens before. At the most would only have a $35 co-pay. Now you're talking about hundreds of dollars."
That sticker shock blindsided Altman and parents across the country.
"Why such an immediate and drastic increase in the pricing? That's a huge jump and that's something you have to budget for. It would be different if it increased by a small percentage over time," said Altman.
While her family is fortunate enough to afford the higher price, Altman said her main concern is other families may be forced to make a potential life-or-death choice.
"I'm concerned they will not be able to afford it. They have to decide between buying dinner for a week and buying a life-saving device for their child. That's just absolutely unacceptable to me. It's just unacceptable," said Altman.
(© 2016 WBIR)