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Senator’s Wife Used Education Position To Boost Daughter’s EpiPen Sales

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

The wife of a prominent U.S. Senator used her position as head of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASB) to boost her daughter’s EpiPen sales, according to recent reports.

EpiPen, short for epinephrine injection, is a life-saving auto-injection device for those with serious allergies that cause anaphylactic shock.

CEO Heather Bresch of Mylan, the company that makes EpiPen’s, caught flack last month after reports revealed Bresch raised the price of EpiPen’s 461 percent since acquiring the drug in 2007. Further adding fuel to public outcry was the fact that Bresch’s salary rose from $2,453,456 in 2007 and skyrocketed 671 percent to $18,931,068 in 2015. (RELATED: ‘Pharma Bro’ Defends CEO That Spiked EpiPen’s Price 461%) 

In the newest stream of unflattering news for the Mylan CEO, evidence surfaced that Gayle Manchin, Bresch’s mother, who is also the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin, abused her position to lobby for all states to carry EpiPens in the event that a student had a life-threatening allergic reaction. Following Gayle’s campaign, 11 states drafted legislation requiring EpiPens be on hand at schools and almost every other state recommended that schools carry the epinephrine injection device in 2013, according to USA Today.

Gayle’s efforts created a virtual monopoly for her daughter’s company in school nursing offices around the country, as the EpiPen is the only FDA-approved epinephrine injection device on the market. (RELATED: The Price Explosion For EpiPens Is Linked To One Key Gov’t Decision)

Gayle Manchin’s campaign started when Mylan began giving health presentations at the association’s annual conference in 2012. The presentations focused on major health problems facing school children, one of which was food allergies.

Mylan launched its EpiPen4Schools program around the same time they began presenting at the NASB’s conferences. The program reportedly provided in excess of 700,000 free EpiPens to around half of the nation’s schools, but required schools to then purchase only Mylan devices, according to USA Today. Mylan has since amended that portion of the program.

As acting head of the board, Gayle Manchin announced that the association would be implementing an “Epinephrine Policy Initiative.” The initiative would “help state boards of education as they develop student health policies regarding anaphylaxis and epinephrine auto injector access and use.”

The policy initiative marked the first time the association directly took measures to address the problem of allergies, despite the fact that the group admitted allergies were a problem as early as the turn of the century. Interesting that the first time the association first addressed the issue publicly, including epinephrine injection devices, was when Bresch’s mother became the acting head.

Heather Bresch is slated to face a Congressional hearing this Wednesday to answer for the company’s move to skyrocket the price of EpiPens, Bloomberg reports.

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