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An Open Letter to the EpiPen CEO (aka Garbage Lady)

Photograph by Flickr

Dear EpiPen Lady (I call you this as I refuse to learn your real name),

You and your decision to screw over regular people by gouging the price of EpiPens have been a popular topic among writers, bloggers, podcasters and just about everyone over the past few weeks. We all know why I’m writing this open letter to you, so I won’t bore the readers with the details.

Many people have written eloquently about what a piece of garbage you are. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as articulate so I won’t use any fancy metaphors to call you a piece of garbage. I’ll just call you a piece of garbage (with all due respect to garbage). And please let me be perfectly clear, so you don’t think I’m just writing hyperbole by calling you garbage… because that’s exactly what you are. I know this to be true, as I was thinking about this earlier today.

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This is how I came to that conclusion. If my wife and I were to attend a dinner party of some sort and you were there, and we were to meet, the conversation would probably go like this:

The Wife: Hi. Nice to meet you. My name is Lara, and this is my husband, Josh.

You (aka Garbage): Hello.

(OK, so far the conversation is not too riveting… this is where it gets interesting…)

You (aka Garbage): So what do you for a living?

The Wife: I work for ______________. I help people by getting people jobs among other things.

Me: I am a writer and filmmaker. Some would argue that I help people by entertaining them. Others would argue that I’m a waste of space. But no one could say that I actively HURT anyone.

The Wife: And what do you do?

You (aka Garbage): Oh, I am the CEO of EpiPen. I actively made a decision to make EpiPens so expensive that hard working people cannot afford them and their children might literally DIE.

You see how that went? You are absolutely the worst person at any dinner party.

Here’s the honest truth, and I hate to admit this: The only reason that I'm interested in writing this letter to you is because your decision to greedily charge an astronomical amount of money for a life-saving medication has personally affected me.

My 5-year-old has a severe peanut allergy. Thank goodness we haven't needed to use an EpiPen yet, but we do need to have them on us at all time.

I hope you realize that we don’t need to just have ONE EpiPen. We need many. My wife has one on her at all times. I have one on me at all times. We have one at home at all times. My wife’s parents have one at their home. We need to have one at his elementary school and one at his after school care.

That’s six EpiPen. I won’t go into how much money that adds up to, but you can do the math, you’re smart. You may be a piece of garbage, but you’re a piece of garbage who is the CEO of a company… so, yeah.

The truth is, I don’t expect this letter to change your mind. If you haven’t been socially embarrassed enough to do the right thing, I doubt calling you garbage will be the tipping point. But, as I said before, I've been doing a lot of thinking on the subject.

It took my 5-year-old to remind me that while it may not be a legal or personal responsibility to do something, it is a moral responsibility.

Sometimes we have to take a moment in life to take a cue from our children. Here’s an example:

I work in Manhattan everyday. I take a long train ride into Penn Station and walk about four blocks into my office off Fifth Avenue. On my short walk, I usually have my headphones in and my eyes on the ground. I notice very little of the life around me.

Last week I took my son to work with me. Walking that nine minutes with my son opened my eyes to something I had been missing with my headphones in my ears and my eyes focused on the pavement.

I noticed dozens of homeless people sleeping on the streets. We adults actively try not to notice them. I suppose they make us too sad.

My 5-year-old, of course noticed them and asked me many questions.

Him: “Why is that man sleeping on the streets?”

Me: “Well, sadly he doesn’t have a home.”

Him: “Why not?”

Me: “Well, many reasons. But he can’t afford a home.”

Him: “Why not?”

Me: “Well… I’m not sure, but…”

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Well you see how that conversation went. Me answering. Him following up. At the end of the conversation, we agreed that we would do research together to figure out what we might be able to do to try to help.

It took my 5-year-old to remind me that while it's not a legal or person responsibility to do anything, it is a moral responsibility.

EpiPen Lady, it was your moral responsibility to not do something. It was your moral responsibility to not raise prices on something that literally saves lives. So what the hell is wrong with you? If you have children—and I pray to God that someone like you who would do such a thing doesn't have children—what would you tell your child?

If you were watching a sinking ship in the ocean, and dozens of people were drowning and you had dozens of life vests, would you say “Wait a minute… this is a perfect example of supply and demand. How much would these people pay for these life vests?”

No, YOU WOULD GIVE THEM YOUR GODDAMN LIFE VESTS!

So, I ask you, if a child asks you “Why” what's your answer? What are you going to do?

Sincerely,

A dad who thinks you should know better

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