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Mylan latest target of US anger on drug pricing with EpiPen price increase

Published on 24/08/16 at 09:29am

The US congress is again subjecting the pharmaceutical industry to heavy scrutiny over drug pricing policies with Mylan its latest target after it emerged that the generic drugmaker has raised the price of its allergy device EpiPen more than 400% since 2008.

A particular matter of contention is that the rise in the price of EpiPen coincided with a 671% increase in the salary of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.

With EpiPen enjoying a market share of around 90%, lawmakers have criticised the drugmaker for using its position to hike prices.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar says: “I write to request the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether Mylan Pharmaceuticals has violated the antitrust laws regarding the sale of its epinephrine anuto-injector, EpiPen. Many Americans, including my own daughter, rely on this life-saving product to treat severe allergic reactions.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley comments: “I have heard from one father in Iowa who recently purchased a refill of his daughter’s EpiPen prescription. He reported that to fill the prescription, he had to pay over $500 for one EpiPen. The high cost has also caused some first responders to consider making their own kits with epinephrine vials and syringes.”

Former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, indicates: “There’s no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600.”

The story has echoes of the Valeant and Shkreli scandals which received public attention last year, with everyone lining up to take aim at both. A string of controversies concerning drug pricing and related issues was enough to send Valeant shares down 90% from its July 2015 high.

For its part, Mylan issued a statement pointing to its savings programmes which makes EpiPen available on a wider scale at a reduced price, especially in schools. They say: “With the current changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families have enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise. This current and ongoing shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and now they are bearing more of the cost.

“This new change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognise the need and are committed to working with customers and payers to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”

Sean Murray

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