Health and Science

US surgeon general: Recent Mylan price increase "runs counter" to health efforts

Surgeon General on opioids, zika and drug costs

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Tuesday he was "deeply disturbed" when he heard about Mylan's price increase of its anti-allergic reaction device EpiPen.

"My concern about drug pricing more broadly is that we have millions of people in America who are struggling to afford their medications that they require to stay healthy," Murthy told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

"And if we really want to focus on keeping people healthy, on reducing the instances of disease complications, then we have to make sure people can get medications that are affordable prices."

Mylan was scrutinized last week after consumers saw more than a fivefold price increase for the EpiPen since 2008. The pharmaceutical company in response announced plans to increase access to its leading product by making expansions to its already existing cost-cutting programs.

The CEO, Heather Bresch, told CNBC she was "frustrated" with EpiPen's high prices and said the real problem is with the overall health care system. On Monday, the company said it would launch the first generic version of the medication at half the price.

Murthy said the recent price increase "runs counter" to efforts to keep people healthy.

He also spoke on the opioid crisis, affecting an estimated 26.4 million to 36 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Murthy said the crisis is one of the U.S.'s most urgent health threats. He also said that clinicians must sharpen their subscribing practices saying in part the U.S. has not trained its medical professionals on "how to treat pain safely and effectively."

Additionally, he urged people to think about the effect of the Zika virus.

"If we want to prevent some of the adverse outcomes related to Zika, particularly the birth defects that occur sometimes when pregnant women are impacted by Zika," he said, "then we've got to focus on prevention. We have to focus on developing a vaccine. We have to focus on mosquito control."