Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bee Happy: Mylan CEO receives nearly $19 million gouging people in need.

CEO Heather Bresch
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch: Bee Happy!

I found out about four years ago that my most dangerous and mortal enemy actually weighs less than a gram.  And my most faithful seventy-pound friend was only able to sit down by my side and watch me die.

Yellow jacket wasps are interesting creatures that many people mistakenly regard as a kind of bee due to their color and other similarities like buzzing when they fly.  In reality, they are anything but a friendly bee.  And a bee is just one item along with many others on their menu.

Yellow Jackets eat insects – and just about anything else they can find while foraging.  Want to catch one?  Hang some dead meat on a string outside.  They’ll be along shortly – especially as we move from August into the cooler (hopefully) nights.  When the other, less sturdy and not-so-predatory bugs perish during the temperature drops, the need to find food becomes uppermost in a yellow jacket’s life – and the decreasing life of the colony.

Sorry, don't do CPR.
What was a diet of predominantly insects now becomes whatever is available – and that includes road kill, garbage cans, and dead anythings.  As a result, their stings are not only painful; they also carry infection. 

This time is also when they vigorously swarm, i.e., gather into even offensive groups to attack anyone nearing a nest – often underground in a cavity.

Sting?  Indeed, they do – and as many times as they need.  They do not lose their stinger, and each stab generates as much poison as the first one.  Even number fifty.  And, if you’re not allergic and you kill that first one that got you only once?  It has already released a pheromone that alerts the rest of the nest and they will all (usually around a thousand or more by fall) be coming for the threat which is you.

When I survived somehow, I was given a prescription for an “Epi-Pen” when the emergency room in a hospital nearly 40 miles away let me depart under the care of a friend and fellow hiker.  The cost I remember was steep – nearly $50 per pen and they come in two-packs – but I wasn’t questioning anything at that time.  But, as you are likely already aware, Pharmaceutical Company Mylan has increased the costs for Epi-pens to $600 for the same package.  Mylan purchased the rights for Epi-Pens in 2007 from Merck, and under the supervision of soon-to-become-CEO Heather Bresch they immediately began an all-out battle to own the lucrative allergy market for those susceptible to peanuts, bees, and other maladies. 

In fact, in the last nine years Heather Bresch has been able to reap an increase in her personal salary from nearly $2.5 million in 2007 to nearly $19 million in the latest reports. (

I recall getting my class lists this time of year and noting the asterisks next to a name that indicated allergies, many of them for bee bites.  Well, more likely yellow jackets,
for it was those wasps in September that made their way through the open windows to hover clumsily in the air, terrorize the allergic, and provide everyone a moments escape from a lesson.

It's not us, it's insurance companies that make us do this..yeah, that's it. 
The school nurse must have had an extra supply of pens just in case someone was bitten or ingested the wrong thing at lunch.  I suppose if we can multiply that need times all the schools, universities, emergency rooms, ambulances, first responders, and parents/people in our country – well, we can understand why Mylan stock has increased nicely until this last week when it dropped $millions of dollars due to this latest price gouging.  Only the baddest little boy in pharma-suicidal history, Martin Shkreli, has defended Heather Bresch and her company’s unbridled greed.  Called the “Pharma-bro,” Shkreli says that Mylan’s in the right and the good guy.

When it happens – for me over 50 stings by yellow jackets – the world and your thinking slows down as you try to think out a plan to escape.  Then your body starts to struggle, making you logically force one foot in front of the other in an effort to move forward.  As the trees and landscape around you turn a deep purple and black, you realize you’re lying on the ground and your breath is no longer available – only short little huffs.  Very quiet.  And you smile and think, what a silly way to die.  You had hoped for something so different…and then your mind starts running through mysterious rooms and scenery…

I had a simply ridiculous theory once.  I have lots of them.  I’d look at my class lists and I’d note that my “allergic” students inhabited the higher-level classes.  The asterisks would pile up in my Honors writing classes or my upper level lit classes.  My reading assistance classes were unusually devoid of “allergies.”  I unthinkingly relaxed my mind to embrace a “smart geek” concept.  Maybe, I thought,  it might have been an indication of the mental acuity vs. the physical stamina.  After all, the preponderance of wrestlers I coached came from my reading classes, not my upper level classes – another ridiculous stereotype I quickly admitted wrong. 

So why? More likely because those in my Reading Assistance classes did not have the access to medical care than my students who came from advantaged and often (stress often but not always) had available.  And, when a company like Mylan increases life-necessary drugs to an over 100% increase in cost, I’m sure that those who are socio-economically disadvantaged will bear the pain. 

On the other hand, the market place can be just as cruel to those who try to use it for unrestrained capitalist greed.  Especially an injector containing approximately one dollar worth of epinephrine. 

According to Consumer Reports, “In most states, to get the low-cost, EpiPen alternative, you can't use a prescription for "EpiPen" from your doctor. That's because pharmacists at your drugstore likely won't be able to automatically substitute the low-cost version if your prescription is written for EpiPen. Instead, ask your doctor to write a prescription for an "epinephrine auto-injector" or "generic Adrenaclick."  If you need and Epi-Pen like I do, please read the report:
And, please register your concern and disgust with your Federal Representative and Senator.

Fight back!  Bee Angry.

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