Editorial note: This article appeared in Linkedin on August 30th, 2016
In a money motivated world, there is no shortage of unfortunate examples of businesses placing profit above social responsibility. When this happens, how are producers held accountable for their actions, and who is influential in the process of making change? A recent news story from this week demonstrates one way that social media is answering these questions.
EpiPen, a life-saving injector that delivers epinephrine to sufferers of severe allergic reactions, costs $600. Each school-aged child needs to have 2 of them: one for home and one for school. For a family with 2 kids, this cost runs up to $2400. In 2007, four out of ten children had food allergy and the number is growing. What is the social responsibility of the producer? Who is holding it accountable? This discussion has been going on since 2014.
Mylan, the company that produces the product, has repeatedly pointed to high-deductible health plans as the main reason patients are suddenly noticing higher prices for EpiPens because they have to buy it as out-of-pocket expense.
The fact is that the price is not getting higher suddenly. There has been a 420% (adjusted for inflation) increase in the price of Epipens since 2004 (See chart below; Source: Bloomberg.com http://bloom.bg/1Wiu6Lh)
A petition “Stop the Epipen Price Gouging” has been initiated by Mellini Kantayyaand on July 11th and signed by more than 141,000 people so far. Social media platforms are the main communication channels for educating and gaining petition support.
In response to the angry consumers, Mylan announced yesterday a plan to release a generic EpiPen that is identical to the existing product and have a wholesale list price of $300 for a pack of two, half the price of the brand-name EpiPen. After falling more than 10 percent last week, Mylan shares were up slightly on Monday and this will NOT be the end of story.
This is an example of how social media can push for social justice, and it’s not the only one. People are more connected now through social media than any other time in history. Anything can be revealed and evaluated under this microscope. Be socially accountable to earn trust and keep your reputation, otherwise your world will be disrupted.
We, consumers, hold you accountable with the help of social media.