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In August 2016, pharmaceutical company Mylan became the latest health company to fall under fire for price gouging.

Over the course of seven years, they'd carefully managed to inflate the list price of EpiPen by nearly 500%, along with price-hikes on more than 30 other products too. That's pretty absurd, considering that some people, including fellow pharmaceutical-makers, say EpiPen ingredients are inexpensive and the pen can cost less than $20 to make. Plus, EpiPen already accounts for 40% of Mylan's operating profits.

At the height of this debacle, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch spoke with CNBC to offer insights on the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry. And her answers actually revealed a lot about health care in America.


Mylan CEO Heather Bresch. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

1. "This isn't an EpiPen issue. This isn't a Mylan issue. This is a health care issue," she said, when asked about government regulations.

There's a whole lot of shady business going on in the health care industry right now, and it's not limited to Mylan.

There was the Turing Pharmaceutical's infamous 5,000% overnight price hike on Daraprim in December 2015, and KV Pharmaceuticals cornered the market on a drug to help prevent premature births and then slapped a markup on it of more than 1,000%. More recently, pharma company Valeant jacked up the price of some generic heart medications it had acquired by up to seven-fold or more.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

2. When an anchor pointed out the bad headlines on Mylan, she responded, "We have given out 700,000 free EpiPens. We stocked 65,000 public schools in this country. ... We're now passing legislation,  30 states to have them in restaurants, hotels."

She also said, "We want everyone who needs an EpiPen to have one."

On the surface level, this is good, right? But it starts to get messy when you look a little closer.

Mylan has already spent millions of dollars in lobbying under the auspices of improving education and awareness about anaphylactic shock. As a result, they've managed to get federal guidelines rewritten to make EpiPens available to anyone, instead of just those with dangerous allergies,and have pushed to require schools and soon also restaurants and hotels to carry the treatment.

For those at risk for deathly allergies, this increased presence of EpiPen is certainly a good thing.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

But it's even better for Mylan, which not only gets to increase its customer base, but also receives a generous tax break for all of those EpiPen donations. Combined with their recent corporate move to the Netherlands, this means that Mylan now pays a distinctly low U.S. federal tax rate.

And that's with you buying EpiPens at a 500% markup.

Photo by Lucas Trieb/AFP/Getty Images.

3. So how do you fix the problem? Bresch's advice was this: "Patients need to get engaged in their health care. [...] There's no transparency, there's no clarity, and no one knows what anything costs."

She went on to say, "Anytime you're shopping for anything, you know what that product is going to cost when you walk up to the counter. Only in health care ... do you walk up to that pharmacy counter, you could have paid $25 yesterday and you're paying $600, $1,000, $2,000."

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Health care costs are muddled, confusing, and seem to change arbitrarily. Even with the regulations that have been put in place by the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. health care system still feels like a mysterious labyrinth where a wrong turn can lead you into either a gold mine or a terrifying confrontation with a surly minotaur.

And if you do have the time, energy, and brain space required to engage more closely with your health care? You're often straddled with a choice between no transparency or being inundated with too much confusing information to make an informed decision.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Yes, the U.S. health care system is still messed up. But the answer to the problem is not to exploit the people who are paying out of pocket.

The problem here isn't consumers or Obamacare or the distribution supply. It's greed. And this time around, Mylan is responsible for the mess.

So what can we, the consumers, do about it? Maybe it's time we listened to Bresch and really got informed and engaged with our health care — by refusing to buy from companies like Mylan whenever there's an option. Then we can reach out to our congresspeople and tell 'em to get their act together.

It might not sound like much, but it's a start.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.