FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --One federal lawmaker calls it astounding, disgusting, sickening greed. The CEO of the drug company that makes the EpiPen insists the allergy medication isn't as profitable as everyone thinks. But the answers she provided to outraged lawmakers Wednesday tell a different story.
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch addressed the house oversight and government reform committee Wednesday. She defended her company's decision to raise the cost of the EpiPen.
"We never intended this we listened and focused on this issue."
The pharmaceutical company has been criticized for increasing the price of EpiPens from around $100 in 2009 to about $600 now.
"Many people incorrectly assume that we make $600 off of each pen, it's simply not true. After subtracting EpiPen related cost, our profit is $100 or approximately $50 per pen," said Bresch.
Some lawmakers still feel the rate hike is the result of greed.
"What was your salary last year," asked a lawmaker.
"About 18 million," answered Bresch.
"About 18 million? Sounds like you're doing pretty well on this," responded the lawmaker.
Despite the political firestorm Bresch said the company will not lower the price of the popular lifesaving device and instead will offer alterative's for customers.
"We announce the first ever generic of the EpiPen product which will be priced at $300."
Fresno residents Susan Downs and Laura Gimbarti carry EpiPens with them because of their insect allergies. They both feel Mylan, the company they have used for years, should just lower the overall cost.
"If it was a new medication I can see it being expensive, but this has been around for years and years," said Downs.
"They just make everything so hard for you to get. It is very frustrating, very frustrating," said Gimbarti.
"This is not a luxury medicine, it is an essential medicine and it has to be available to save lives," said Dr A. M. Aminian, Central valley allergist.
Dr. Aminian is now worried people who need the medicine will start resorting to over the counter options because of the expensive cost. It is something he said they should not do.
"If someone has a very severe allergic reaction you cannot rely on Benadryl to take care of that, you must use epinephrine and that's what is in EpiPen."