Biotech and Pharma

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch says diversification is boosting company after EpiPen controversy

Bresch: Mylan's unique global platform has ability to shine

The CEO of pharmaceuticals giant Mylan said Friday it has a "unique global platform" whose broad diversification is helping the company "shine" right now — in contrast to some of its competitors, and despite a new president who has complained about high drug prices.

Mylan Chief Heather Bresch's comments on CNBC's "Power Lunch" came two days after the firm's stock price spiked sharply when the company reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.57, which beat a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $1.42.

That jump came as much-welcome news after a summer that saw Mylan and Bresch become the latest face of big drug price hikes. Consumers and congressmen howled over the sticker price for a two-pack of its anti-allergy EpiPen devices being boosted to $600.

Mylan shares slipped less than 1 percent to $45.09 in late afternoon trading Friday.

Asked how she squared the fact that Mylan's stock has risen by more than 20 percent since the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to drive drug prices lower, Bresch said: "Because we are primarily a generic [drug] company," and "90 percent of prescriptions [in the U.S.] are generic."

Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs, which typically cost more than generic products. Mylan, in response to the EpiPen outrage, introduced a generic version of the lifesaving device and sells it for half the price of the brand-name auto-injector.

"We have over 630 products here in the United States," Bresch said. "Last year, we sold 22 billion doses. One out of every 13 scripts in the United States is filled with a Mylan medicine, more than the seven [other] largest pharmaceutical companies combined."

Worldwide, Bresch said, the company sold 60 billion doses last year.

"The last three years, our company has almost doubled," she said. "Look at the global footprint we have today. Fifty percent of our revenues are outside the United States. And inside the United States we are extremely diversified and [have a] differentiated portfolio. We don't have product that makes up more than 5 percent of our revenue."

When asked why Mylan's stock price was performing much better than other companies that also were heavily focused on generics, such as Perrigo, Bresch said, "Look, I think if you've got a niche portfolio or just operating in one country, like the United States, your ability to absorb the volatility is much less."

Mylan CEO: Fixed EpiPen, but system is broken

"Not only do we have a differentiated and diversified platform, we're across generic brands as well as over-the-counter medicine," Bresch said. "People are starting to understand: all generic companies aren't created equally."

"We believe Mylan has a unique, global platform that right now is being able to shine," she said.

Bresch on Friday reiterated her argument that the controversy over EpiPen's pricing has brought light to a "broken" drug system, in which customers are increasingly exposed to insurance plans with high deductible limits. Those deductibles must be paid before the insurance plan covers the rest of the cost of a drug or medical service.

Bresch also pointed the finger at the "entire supply chain" for pharmaceuticals, one in which a drugmaker is just one of several entities, including pharmacy benefit managers, that is taking a cut of a medication's list price.

She said that bringing "transparency" about that system is one path toward relieving price pressure on customers.

Bresch said she was "optimistic" about the Trump administration, but cautioned that any regulatory action to speed up federal approval of new drugs "is not going to change the [price] dynamic for the patient at the pharmacy counter."

"I think this administration is a solution-oriented administration, and this is a huge problem," Bresch said, referring to high prices of some drugs.

"As he said, this is a huge program" Bresch said of Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday night. "And, he said it's complicated. So it's going to have to take bold action to be able to really look at this holistically."

Mylan currently is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, which is reportedly probing whether the company violated antitrust laws by tweaking EpiPen's design slightly to extend its patent, and whether Mylan made any agreements that delayed the entry of potential EpiPen competitors to the marketplace. Mylan has strongly denied that it did anything wrong.

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