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August 25, 2016

EpiPen CEO: Blame the 'broken' system, not me

Heather Bresch, the Mylan CEO under fire for skyrocketing EpiPen costs, believes Americans should redirect their anger toward a "broken" health care system.

Mylan was forced to respond to the national outrage over a more than 400% increase in price for the lifesaving allergy treatment by pledging on Thursday to make it more affordable.

But Bresch argued that a lack of transparency in the complex health care system -- with bigger cuts for everyone from the pharmacy to the wholesaler -- "incentivizes higher prices" in the industry. She pointed out that copays and deductibles are on the rise, too.

"This system needs to be fixed. No one knows what anything costs," Bresch told CNBC on Thursday.

The Mylan CEO compared the health care industry to the real estate mortgage crisis of 2008.

"Our health care system is in a crisis...This bubble is going to burst," Bresch said.

The CNBC interview was part of a counteroffensive by Mylan. The cost of the company's allergy treatment has risen to about $600 from below $100 in 2009.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the EpiPen price hikes on Wednesday "outrageous" and "the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers."

Mylan responded by announcing efforts on Thursday to make EpiPen more affordable for some patients. Mylan said it will provide instant savings cards worth $300 to patients who have to pay the full price for the drug out of pocket. The move translates to about a 50% price cut for those without insurance or for patients with high deductible plans.

Bresch said she welcomes calls by members of the U.S. Senate for her to testify on the EpiPen matter. The CEO said she has already reached out to a number of lawmakers, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, but they haven't called her back to set a date.

"As soon as you can meet, I'm there," Bresch said she told the senators.

Mylan's efforts to ease the firestorm relieved investors. After plunging 11% earlier in the week, Mylan stock rose 2% on Thursday.

--CNNMoney's Aaron Smith contributed to this report.

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