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Mylan CEO Heather Bresch draws fire over private jet use

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan NV, speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, Sept. 21, 2016.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Heather Bresch just became the latest private-jet poster-executive.

During on Wednesday over the steep rise in the price of her company's EpiPens, the Mylan CEO came under fire for flying a private jet to the capital.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., asked Bresch how she got from the company's headquarters in Pennsylvania to the capital.

"Did you fly here on the private jet?" Watson Coleman asked.

"I did," Bresch answered, adding that she flew from Pittsburgh with other employees and that "I know it's fortunate, and it's for efficiency and safety."

Watson Coleman then said, "It is a little stunning to see that so much money could be spent on whether you're traveling around on a jet while we have this discussion here about whether Americans are being bilked for a lifesaving drug like EpiPen."

EpiPens are auto-injection devices that contain epinephrine, a drug that can counteract a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

The exchange bore a faint echo of the automakers in 2008, who flew to the capital on private jets while asking to be bailed out by taxpayers. The fallout from the flights rippled through the jet industry for years, as executives feared being outed in public as taking private jets while the rest of the country was suffering.

Yet, the Mylan situation and the automakers are fundamentally different. Mylan wasn't bailed out by taxpayers. One could argue about Medicaid payments to Mylan, but ultimately it's a for-profit public company whose jet expenses are made public and have been disclosed and accepted by its shareholders.

Still, the optics of taking a jet to a hearing in which she was cast as getting "filthy rich" at the expense of public health may not have been ideal.