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The White House weighed in on the controversy over the skyrocketing cost of the EpiPen allergy shot, saying unscrupulous pricing practices raise serious moral questions for pharmaceutical companies.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said companies that develop and market life-saving medication “often do real damage to their reputation by being greedy and jacking up prices in a way that victimizes vulnerable Americans.”

While he said he wouldn’t “specifically second-guess the pricing strategy or the business practices,” of any one company, Earnest said the price hike “raises significant questions, even moral questions, in the minds of a lot of people.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was more muted in her response to the EpiPen controversy Wednesday, calling Mylan’s actions “outrageous — and it’s just the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.”

While the drug industry can be an “incredible source of American innovation,” she said “it’s wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them.”

“We certainly have seen other high-profile incidents of pharmaceutical companies that have taken a hit both to their reputation and their stock price for engaging in unscrupulous practices. And I think other companies, including other pharmaceutical companies, would be wise to learn those lessons,” Earnest said.

Mylan, the Dutch company that bought the EpiPen in 2007, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement Monday, Mylan blamed rising health insurance deductibles for the increase in out-of-pocket payments for patients and emphasized its co-payment coupons and donations of 700,000 EpiPens to schools since 2013.

The prices insurers and employers negotiate with Mylan are up about 150% since 2009, according to Rx Savings Solutions, and 15% since May. The average wholesale price of the EpiPen has increased nearly 150% since 2009.


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