If you’ve got a severe allergy to something, chances are high you’ve got to carry around an EpiPen with you. These are devices that inject precise doses of adrenalin, stopping the effects of anaphylaxis in their tracks.
At $100, they were already damn expensive. But then the manufacturer, Mylan, raised the prices to $600. Naturally, this has been controversial, and many have compared its CEO, Heather Bresch, to the odious “pharma-bro” Martin Shkreli.
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Now, this saga is being parodied in a free, browser-based game called (what else?) EpiPen Tycoon. To win, you have to raise the cost of the EpiPen without outraging your investors or the public.
Raise it too high, and customer fury will soar. To get things back on track, you’ll either have to lower the price, offer a token subsidy, or blame Obamacare. Fail to do so, and you’ll be ousted out of your job by a barrage of Twitter abuse, and angry Medium thinkpieces.
Lower the price too much, and your investors will start to reduce your salary, curtail your private jet usage, and ultimately fire you.
Video games are an increasingly used tool to comment on contemporary issues, from animal welfare to the business practices of a particular fast-food chain. EpiPen Tycoon takes this concept, and turns it into an competent parody of the unpalatable business practices of big-pharma.