Dear Heather Bresch,
You lived in Morgantown. I did, too: born and raised. My parents are retired from the university you attended. My elementary school took field trips to Mylan labs. They were shining, optimistic.
You’re from West Virginia. I am, too. This means we both know something of the coal industry that has both sustained and destroyed our home. You know, as I do, how many miners have been killed in explosions: trapped underground when a pocket of methane ignites. We both know that miners long carried safety lamps: carefully shielded but raw flames that would go out when the oxygen went too low, a warning to get away — if they had not first exploded, as open flames around methane do. Perhaps you know, as I only recently learned, that miners were once required to buy their own safety lamps: so when safer ones came out, ones that would only warn without killing you first, miners did not carry them. They couldn’t afford to. They set probability against their lives, went without the right equipment, and sometimes lost, and died.
I’m a mother. You are, too. I don’t know if your children carry medication for life-threatening illnesses; I hope you have not had to face that. I have. In our case it’s asthma, not allergies, and an inhaler, not an Epi-Pen. It’s a $20 copay with our insurance and lasts for dozens of doses. It doesn’t stop asthma attacks once they start — my daughter’s asthma is too severe for that — but sometimes it prevents them. And when it does not, it still helps: we spend two days in the hospital instead of five; we don’t go to the ICU. (Have you ever been with your child in a pediatric ICU? It is the most miraculous, and the worst, place on earth.)
Most families can find their way to twenty dollars. Many cannot find six hundred. They’ll go without, and set probability against their children’s lives. Rich children will live; poor children will sometimes lose, and die.
I ask you to reconsider.