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Ralph Nader: Mylan CEO double talking on 400% EpiPen hikes

Nader: Mylan is 'greed on steroids'

Drugmaker Mylan's decision to "gouge" consumers on lifesaving EpiPen devices is corporate "greed on steroids," Ralph Nader told CNBC on Thursday.

"This is an old product. It's been around for years. It's not a brand new invention that's going to be amortized in terms of research and development," the consumer advocate said on "Squawk on the Street. "

Appearing earlier on "Squawk Box," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch struggled to justify the nearly 400 percent price hike in recent years on the allergy treatment.

Mylan responded to criticism Thursday morning before Bresch's interview by announcing an increase in rebates to eligible consumers to lower what they actually pay out of pocket for EpiPens.

When pressed why she just didn't just cut the price of the devices, Bresch told CNBC: "Had we reduced the list price, I couldn't ensure that everyone who needs EpiPen gets one. So we went around the system. That's what we announced today."

Nader dismissed Mylan's solution and Bresch's explanations. "It sounds like double talk by Heather Bresch. She's making $10,000 an hour as CEO of Mylan. And she's not talking straight."

"It's a kind of pay-or-die pricing system for the EpiPen," Nader continued. "Parents are really frantic about how they're going to pay for this."

The liberal Nader has run for president four times as a third-party candidate, including in 2000, when he was seen as a spoiler to Democrat Al Gore's bid for the White House. After the Florida recount saga, Republican George W. Bush won his first term.

The EpiPen controversy has erupted on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators released a letter they're sending to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf about the competitive landscape for the treatment.

"Given the importance of this topic, it is imperative to understand the FDA's role with respect to EpiPens and its approval of generic equivalents that could help to increase competition and lower prices if introduced," stated the letter, which was signed by Democrat Amy Klobuchar, Republican Charles Grassley, Republican Ron Johnson, Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Democrat Patrick Leahy.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also weighed Wednesday.

In a statement linked in that tweet, Clinton said Mylan should lower prices on the devices, "immediately."