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4. Political Cartoon: 'Scared Stiff'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Scared Stiff'" by Rina Piccolo.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Drug prices go up
Not just today, everyday
Let's just blame Shkreli

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Summaries Of The News:


5. Mylan's Offer Of EpiPen Discounts Meets With Criticism

Critics reacted by pointing out that the company did not lower the list price of the EpiPen, which has risen to $600 for a pack of two from about $100 in 2007. Many experts also said the company's move to provide "savings cards" was more of a public relations move that wouldn't have much overall impact.

The Wall Street Journal: Mylan Reacts To EpiPen Backlash
Mylan NV raced Thursday to counter a firestorm of criticism over its pricing of lifesaving EpiPens, saying it would help more patients cover their out-of-pocket costs. But the drugmaker didn’t lower the list price, and its stranglehold on the market means it is unlikely to face competitive pressure to do so. (Rockoff, 8/25)

The New York Times: Mylan To Offer Some Patients Aid On Cost Of EpiPens
But the moves did not mollify critics of Mylan because the company did not lower the list price of the EpiPen, which has risen to $600 for a pack of two from about $100 in 2007. So the total cost to the health system, a cost borne largely by insurers, the federal government and school districts, will remain the same. (Pollack, 8/25)

The Washington Post: Why Mylan’s ‘Savings Card’ Won’t Make EpiPen Cheaper For All Patients
Although the company said that the savings card would halve the cost of the drug to commercially insured patients who pay full price, outside experts said the overall impact will likely be small and that it did not amount to a solution to the broader problem. Such savings cards are a classic public relations move by the pharmaceutical industry, said Harvard Medical School professor Aaron Kesselheim, and it will only be used by a fraction of the people who need the drug. For example, such savings cards are illegal in government health programs such as Medicaid. (Johnson, 8/25)

NPR: EpiPen Manufacturer Offers A Discount, But Critics Aren't Soothed
The device's manufacturer, Mylan NV, announced Thursday that it will offer coupons worth as much as $300 off a two-pack. The move is a reaction to harsh criticism from consumers and several lawmakers over repeated price increases that have boosted the cost of the medication to more than $600 from less than $100 just a few years ago. ... But coupons may not be enough to tamp down anger over the price hikes. (Kodjak, 8/25)

The Hill: EpiPen Maker Lowers Price After Uproar 
The maker of EpiPens announced Thursday that it is reducing the price of the device following an uproar in Washington over the cost of the treatment for serious allergic reactions. Mylan, the company that makes EpiPen, said it will provide a savings card worth up to $300 for people who had been paying the full price out-of-pocket, effectively reducing the cost by 50 percent. The company is also making it easier to qualify for its patient assistance program, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and underinsured people. (Sullivan, 8/25)

The Star Tribune: EpiPen Manufacturer Says It Will Offer New Discounts On The Product 
Mylan, the embattled drug company whose price hikes of an anti-allergy product sparked calls for a government investigation and a congressional hearing has announced plans to broaden discounts offered to consumers on its EpiPen. The company said Thursday that it will increase the value of a savings coupon offered on an epinephrine auto injector to $300 from $100 and double the eligibility for subsidies that eliminate out-of-pocket costs to uninsured or underinsured patients. (Spencer, 8/25)

Marketplace: Mylan Says Raising EpiPen Price 500% Isn't The Problem
Today the CEO of Mylan responded to the uproar over her company's price increases for EpiPens, the life-saving anti-allergy injectors. A pack of two EpiPens now costs $600, up from $100 in 2007. CEO Heather Bresch said Mylan will offer more financial assistance to help people pay their out-of-pocket costs — the piece that health insurance doesn't cover. But she did not offer to take back any of the price increases. Instead, Mylan blames rising health care premiums and deductibles. But Robert Weissman, president of the watchdog group Public Citizen, says that’s not it at all.  “The problem is that Mylan has jacked up their price,” he said.  (Douban, 8/25)

6. Very Public EpiPen Pricing Brawl Offers Case Studies In Social Media, P.R. Crisis Management

Parents used social media to challenge Mylan's price hikes while the company's CEO is responding with a message that their anger should be focused on the nation's broken health system. Meanwhile, the topic is getting play on the presidential campaign trail and from congressional lawmakers. Even actress Sarah Jessica Parker has jumped into the fray, announcing that she will end her association with Mylan.

The New York Times: How Parents Harnessed The Power Of Social Media To Challenge EpiPen Prices
[Mellini Kantayya] went online to, a service that collects signatures and then sends them to designated lawmakers, and created the petition “Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging,” which went live on July 11. Then Ms. Kantayya shared the link with her 836 Facebook friends, with a post that began, “Stupid pharmaceutical company!” What happened next is a lesson in the power of social media to help create a groundswell, particularly among a group as committed and motivated as the parents of children with food allergies, who must often buy multiple pens for home, school and day care. In just 45 days, Ms. Kantayya’s petition grew from a few dozen signatures to more than 80,000 people who sent more than 121,000 letters to Congress. (Parker-Pope, 8/25)

CNN Money: EpiPen CEO: Blame The 'Broken' System, Not Me
Heather Bresch, the Mylan CEO under fire for skyrocketing EpiPen costs, believes Americans should redirect their anger toward a "broken" health care system. Mylan (MYL) was forced to respond to the national outrage over a more than 400% increase in price for the lifesaving allergy treatment by pledging on Thursday to make it more affordable. But Bresch argued that a lack of transparency in the complex health care system -- with bigger cuts for everyone along the supply chain -- "incentivizes higher prices" in the industry. She pointed out that copays and deductibles are on the rise, too. (Egan, 8/25)

Bloomberg: Lawmakers Blast Mylan’s Move To Curb EpiPen Costs As PR Fix 
In response to intense criticism over the past few days, Mylan acted Thursday to expand assistance programs that help patients with high out-of-pocket expenses -- but didn’t go as far as cutting the treatment’s list price. Health insurers and U.S. lawmakers, along with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, criticized the effort as an attempt to cover a 400 percent price hike that won’t make the drug more affordable. Mylan has been under fire for increasing the price to about $600 for a two-pack from $57 for a single pen in 2007. (Koons and Edney, 8/25)

Stat: 5 Questions About EpiPen Pricing That The Mylan CEO Has Yet To Answer
Amid a chorus of criticism over the rising cost of EpiPens — a furor that has sent her company’s stock down more than 10 percent — Mylan CEO Heather Bresch went on CNBC on Thursday to manage a crisis. But her appearance may have raised more questions than it answered. Mylan is not lowering the price of EpiPen, though it is expanding a program to help patients with the cost. Some of Bresch’s sharpest critics — including members of Congress and Hillary Clinton — have made clear that’s not enough. (Garde, 8/25)

Roll Call: Democrats: EpiPen Cost Curbing Is PR Move, Not a Fix
Some Congressional Democrats are criticizing a pharmaceutical company's effort to curb the rising cost of a drug used to combat severe allergic reactions as a public relations move rather than a solution. ... “This step seems like a PR fix more than a real remedy, masking an exorbitant and callous price hike," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. "This baby step should be followed by actual robust action." (Bowman, 8/25)

Roll Call: EpiPen Crisis Hitting Senators Close To Home
The debate over the cost of EpiPens isn't just politics for some lawmakers. It's personal. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia both have adult daughters who rely on the drug injector. Klobuchar's daughter, Abigail, 21, keeps one with her because of a nut allergy. A spokeswoman for Warner said the senator's youngest daughter, Eliza, 22, is so prone to allergic reactions that she actually needs to use EpiPens regularly — and the Warner family keeps them around the house. (Lesniewski, 8/26)

Stat: Sarah Jessica Parker, Angry At EpiPen Price, Drops Mylan Sponsorship
Under fire for aggressively hiking the price of the EpiPen device, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has now lost an influential advocate: Sarah Jessica Parker. The actress said on her verified Instagram account Thursday that she has ended her relationship as a paid spokeswoman for the drug maker “as a direct result” of the price increases. Parker wrote that she is “disappointed, saddened and deeply concerned by Mylan’s actions” and called on t

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