3 eye-opening quotes from the CEO who raised the price on EpiPens.

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.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.