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NYC comptroller on EpiPen hikes: How does Mylan CEO 'sleep at night?'

NYC takes Mylan to task

Mylan's price hikes for the EpiPen of 500 percent over nine years is the latest in a series of "poor management" decisions by drugmaker's board, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told CNBC on Friday.

Stringer, who serves as custodian and investment advisor to the nation's fourth-largest pension system, called for an "independent board that can right this ship" at Mylan.

"I think this company has serious issues based on independence, oversight, and a long-term strategy," he said. "Our pension fund has a serious investment in Mylan."

"I don't really think they have independent directors. It's a smoke screen," Stringer said on "Squawk Box." "We have [also] always been concerned with their aggressive CEO compensation."

Mylan did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Stringer's demands.

Addressing the public outcry, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch tried in a recent CNBC interview to justify the repeated EpiPen price hikes to a retail cost of more than $600. The EpiPen list price in 2007 was $100.

"I quite frankly don't know how she can sleep at night knowing there's a real risk that people can't get this product to save lives of children," Stringer said. "They overplayed their hand. I think this is price gouging."

Boxes of Mylan NV's EpiPen 2-Pak allergy shots sit on display for a photograph at a pharmacy in Princeton, Illinois,
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The drugmaker has taken steps in recent weeks to make EpiPens more affordable, including plans to launch a generic at a discount of more than 50 percent and to take half off branded EpiPens through a savings card for eligible users.

"It's a weak, late response. I'll take it. But it's just the beginning," Stringer said. "They're facing some serious issues: legal, reputational and regulatory."

Citing the EpiPen, Hillary Clinton on Friday released a new plan to combat soaring drug prices.

On Thursday, Stringer's office issued a letter to Mylan on behalf the city's pension funds to express "alarm" with the company's "exorbitant price hikes ... and the risk these actions pose for the company's long-term value."

The letter also said: "[Mylan's] gross mismanagement of its EpiPen pricing strategy exacerbates the company's protracted history of weak board oversight, which has prompted ... widespread investor concerns."

The New York City's pension funds currently hold over 1 million shares of Mylan, valued at approximately $45 million.

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