EpiPen fiasco was caused by the FDA – don’t blame free market capitalism

Our government, not free market capitalism, is to blame for this situation which has allowed Mylan Pharmaceutical company to jack-up prices for its EpiPen. The FDA is has created a huge delay in approving generic epipens.  This has effectively given Mylan a monopoly.  Established drug companies should have some type of fast-track authority to manufacture generic products without having to get advance approval from the FDA.  Don’t blame private enterprise for problems created by government.

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6 thoughts on “EpiPen fiasco was caused by the FDA – don’t blame free market capitalism

  1. Kurt, just because a person or organization is able to do something doesn’t always mean they should. In this situation, Mylan priced its product way beyond the reach of some peoples’ ability to pay for it. Not only was this pure unadulterated greed on their part, but they engaged in it fully aware that they were putting peoples’ lives at risk. Their quick decision to produce a generic at half the price after a very robust public outcry bears this out. Although the FDA may well need to reform some of its policies, neither it, nor our bloated and inefficient government in general, are responsible for this fiasco. That distinction lies squarely with Mylan.

  2. John, you are correct, but they were only able to do it because of government regulations and specifically the failure of the FDA to keep up with their drug approval process – even for generic drugs. Without the regulatory screw-up, Mylan could not have raised their prices. Yes, Mylan is/was greedy, but they were only able to follow their greed because of government. Thanks for your comment.

    • Kurt, you’re undoubtedly correct about the FDA. However, as the old saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Mylan’s duty to people needing EpiPen was, and will always be, to price it fairly. The opposite of your argument can be just as easily, and in my opinion, more justifiably made: Had its greed for profit-at-any-cost not contaminated its pricing decision, none of the issues regarding the FDA would have mattered. Logic dictates that if the Second Amendment / gun ownership laws / guns themselves don’t cause murders, i.e., people are responsible for them, then a screwed-up FDA doesn’t cause onerous wholesale prices on medications, i.e., pharmaceutical companies bear that responsibility. Your unflinching libertarian mindset predisposes you to seeing any interest representing the private sector in the best possible light under any given set of circumstances, while viewing any interest representing the public sector in the worst possible (case in point — your assignment of blame for this fiasco on the FDA). Although I agree with you 90+% of the time on these types of issues, unlike you, I don’t have what seem like intractable scales over my eyes; that might explain why I’m not a Libertarian.

      • John,

        Actually, I do agree that Mylan could have taken the high ground and not taken advantage of the monopoly situation they found themselves in. They did act on their greedy instincts, to a fault. They probably created a lot of bad will with the public, and increased the likelihood that government might take action to regulate their prices in the future.

        Clearly, my perspective was to look for the unintended consequences of government actions, especially when most critics were only blaming Mylan’s greed and calling for more regulation.

        Our founding fathers tried to create a government based on the assumption that people were greedy, selfish, and sought power for their own benefit. James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

        The point being, laws and regulations should be based on the presumption that people are greedy and will act on that greed – even though some honorable people do act for the benefit of others. In the case of Mylan and EpiPens, the vast majority of reports that I heard and read only talked about the greed of Mylan and did not mention the FDA’s role in creating the situation which allowed Mylan act out its greed. So, I guess that is why I was so focused in the role that the government played.

        Again, John, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  3. Free trade. We must be able to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. This is the only way the greedy pharmas will start competing in a real free market.

  4. Kat, I agree. Even U.S. pharmacies should be able to buy from drug wholesalers in Canada. U.S. retail pharmacies lose business to Canadian pharmacies because Canadian pharmacies are able to buy at a lower cost than U.S. pharmacies. In the case of EpiPens, I heard that Canadian pharmacies sell them for much less than in the U.S. – today. True free trade would help all consumers. Again, thanks for the comment.

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