If you maintain a lingering attachment to the “girlboss” ideology – the widespread liberal idea that capitalism is better and more humane when women are in charge – the CV of Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, makes for stimulating reading. She received some accolades as a glass ceiling breaker. She was the first female CEO of a large pharmaceutical company and one of eighteen women to lead a Fortune 500 company. In 2014, Bresch was named one of the Fortune of the magazine â50 most influential businesswomenâ.
It’s a whole bunch of credentials. But upon taking a closer look at the details of his career, Bresch had a remarkably horrific impact on society, even by the usual standards of American capitalists.
You can still say something about politicians by the relationships of their relatives, spouses and friends, as we argued here two years ago. Such people influence the way they think – other things being equal, we much prefer to elect a politician married to a nurse or teacher, for example, than to a fossil fuel executive. Of course, humans are not entirely responsible for their family members, thank goodness, and in any case, a parent’s questionable line of work will not affect a politician’s ability to govern in a reasonable manner.
In the case of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, however, her daughter’s former job – she was the president, leading lobbyist and CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company – represents such a huge conflict of interest, with implications for policy that are shocking and disqualifying. even by normal Washington, DC standards. She is not just the senator’s daughter, she is a major donor.
And it’s worse than that. Much worse.
Last month the InterceptRyan Grim reported that Bresch worked with the CEO of Pfizer to keep EpiPen prices artificially high. The EpiPen, as many readers with severe allergies know, is a lifesaving device that patients carry with them in the event of a severe allergic reaction that injects epinephrine into the body. As Grim reported, the emails regarding the 2011 CEO deal were released as part of a lawsuit. Pfizer agreed to part ways with competitor EpiPen, giving Mylan a monopoly, allowing the company to continue to raise prices without dampening competition. (The deal – and the resulting price increase – benefited both companies, as Pfizer acquired King Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactured the epinephrine, while Mylan continued to manufacture and distribute the epinephrine. ‘device itself.)
In 2007, when Mylan first secured the rights to the EpiPen, a two-pack cost less than $ 100; after Bresch made the aforementioned deal with Pfizer, the price rose to over $ 600, with catastrophic results, especially for those who had to pay top dollar for lack of adequate insurance coverage. As CNBC reported in 2016, the EpiPen costs only a few dollars to make, including the drug. Oh, and by the way, after the prices hiked Manchin’s wife Gayle Conelly Manchin pushed for federal legislation requiring schools to have EpiPens in place.
Manchins are truly America’s worst family.
Pfizer has settled a price fixing lawsuit in the case, and a similar lawsuit against Mylan is pending. Bresch resigned from Mylan last year amid criticism of the unreasonable price increases. (Plus, in 2017, Mylan was fined $ 465 million for scamming Medicaid. Go ahead, girl!) Bresch’s exit schedule was $ 37.6 million.
You can buy a lot of EpiPens with this, even at exorbitant prices. Perhaps this is why Bresch’s remorse about this episode – expressed when asked about it by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform – seemed pro forma at best: with such âretirementâ nest egg, why should she care about the death of children? As a Bloomberg Business headline put it in 2016: “Mylan CEO regrets patient return, but did not expand use of EpiPen.”
The main reason Joe Manchin is famous right now is because he has a $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that will enable American society to meet a wide range of pressing social and environmental needs. It is crucial to the daily survival of millions of working-class Americans, and the fate of life on Earth, as well as the near-term electoral future of Democrats. One of the most popular provisions in this bill would make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, a policy change that would significantly complicate the kind of shenanigans that have made it. of Manchin’s daughter, such a rich woman.
We all have unsavory parents, but Manchin is involved in his daughter’s career – she got her first job at Mylan after her dad said a nice word to her. In addition, Bresch is much more involved than most girls in his father’s career. As OpenSecrets reported last month after Grim’s story was published, Bresch’s company – PAC and employees – was one of the biggest contributors to Joe Manchin’s campaign before it was bought by Viatris in 2020. Heather Bresch was Mylan PAC’s largest donor during the 2010 and 2012 cycles. In 2016 and 2018, Bresch and her husband, Jeff, a former partner at law firm Jones Day, donated the maximum amount individually to the Manchin campaign.
Protesters from the Sunrise Movement, the Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance and the Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America last Tuesday picketed Bresch’s $ 10 million house in Pittsburgh. Protesters called on Bresch to pressure his father to stop removing the entire $ 3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act without any reduction in his investments in human survival and a livable planet. Protesters handed him a job offer letter, pointing out that 68% of West Virginia voters want full legislation passed, including climate provisions, but Manchin “isn’t listening to his constituents and is trying to cut the bill down to nothing, so we need someone to listen to … we believe it’s you.
His daughter’s misdeeds shouldn’t overshadow Manchin’s horror as an individual. He was a coal baron before he was a senator, and he receives half a million dollars a year in dividends from his coal company. No wonder he opposes all of the most important climate provisions in the proposed budget. His own conflicts of interest would disqualify him from office, if we had a sane constitution aimed at preventing capitalist capture and control of government. Since we are not doing this, his constituents should have the common sense to vote against him. They have many good reasons for doing so, but her daughter Big Pharma surely offers one more.