by Gail Kalinoski
, Contributing Reporter | August 26, 2016
The controversy over pharmaceutical company Mylan’s price hikes for the EpiPen Auto-Injector treatment continues, even after the CEO said the company would offer coupons up to $300 for some patients and increase the eligibility level for financial assistance.
The average wholesale price of EpiPen, used to stop severe allergic reactions and often used by children, is up nearly 500 percent since 2009, according to USA Today
. There currently is no generic equivalent or brand-name competitor. The two-pack of EpiPen is now about $600, compared to about $100 seven years ago.
Amid the firestorm, which has attracted the attention of several members of Congress, watchdog groups, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and actress Sarah Jessica Parker, the drug company announced Thursday it would increase the amount of coupons it offers some patients from $100 to $300. It would also double the income level for families to receive financial assistance from $24,300 for a family of four to $97,200, USA Today reported.
The price spikes have come to light in many cases because of more high-deductible insurance plans which cause people to pay full cost out of pocket for some drugs or those who don’t have insurance. Those seeking to change the way drugs are priced argue that the price hikes affect everyone, even those whose insurance covers most or all of the cost of the EpiPen because it impacts the overall health care system.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, was one of several members of congress calling Mylan’s plan to offer more coupons a “PR move.”
“Mylan should not offer the after-the-fact discounts only for a select few – it should reverse its massive price increases across the board immediately. Drug company CEOs are using a corrupt business model to profit off of our most vulnerable citizens and using them like ATMs,” Cummings said in a prepared statement.
The American Medical Association issued a statement urging Mylan to “rein in exorbitant costs.”
“The AMA has long urged the pharmaceutical industry to exercise reasonable restraint in drug pricing and, with lives on the line, we urge the manufacturer to do all it can to rein in those exorbitant costs,” Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., AMA president, said in prepared remarks. “With many parents required to buy two or more sets of EpiPens just to keep their children safe, the high cost of these devices may either keep them out of reach of people in need or force some families to choose between EpiPens and other essentials. The AMA will continue to promote market-based strategies to achieve access to and affordability of health care goods and services.”