Even though Mylan is his second largest contributor, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says he doesn’t pay attention to those numbers and that he doesn’t do “quid pro quo” arrangements.
In an interview published Tuesday by The Young Turks, Sen. Manchin said he doesn’t know who his top donors are. Mylan, which has taken heat over EpiPen price hikes and much more over the last year, and its employees donated $60,750 to the senator in recent years and $127,500 over the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is Sen. Manchin’s daughter.
“I know that is hard for anyone to believe,” Sen. Manchin told TYT’s Cenk Uygur, adding that he doesn't pay attention to donor lists and examines each issue individually. “ … There are still those of us who are involved in public service for the sake of serving the public.”
Mylan has faced an abundance of public and political pressure over the last year stemming from years of EpiPen price hikes, a Medicaid misclassification for the lifesaving injector and an FTC antitrust probe on the product.
In the TYT interview, Sen. Manchin defended Mylan as a source for good-paying jobs in West Virginia, adding that the company’s generic drugs help save the U.S. billions in healthcare costs. Mylan employs 3,500 people in his state, Sen. Manchin said.
Most recently, the company has faced heat over its decision to award chairman Robert Coury a $97 million pay package for 2016, making him the highest-compensated biopharma exec for the year. Shareholders revolted but failed to oust any directors, partly because company rules require a supermajority to remove a board member.
Representing the New York City Pension funds, New York City comptroller Scott Singer was among a group that called for Coury’s exit and other changes at the drugmaker. Singer wrote in a letter that there’s no “defensible rationale” for the supermajority rule.
Further, the company is tangled in a Medicaid misclassification controversy for EpiPen that a recent government report concluded cost taxpayers $1.27 billion. Mylan agreed to a $465 million settlement with the government back in the fall, but that deal has not yet been ratified. Several critics have said the U.S. needs to dig deeper and recoup all of the lost funds.
Asked whether Mylan should be forced to repay the $1.27 billion, Sen. Manchin said he’s made an effort to stay out of that issue. Sen. Manchin also told Uygur that he supports Sen. Bernie Sanders’ price-fighting measure to allow drug importation from Canada.