EpiPen manufacturer says it will offer new discounts

Published 10:38 am Friday, August 26, 2016

By Jim Spencer

Minneapolis Star Tribune

WASHINGTON — Mylan, the embattled drug company whose price hikes of an anti-allergy product sparked calls for a government investigation and a congressional hearing has announced plans to broaden discounts offered to consumers on its EpiPen.

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The company said Thursday that it will increase the value of a savings coupon offered on an epinephrine auto injector to $300 from $100 and double the eligibility for subsidies that eliminate out-of-pocket costs to uninsured or underinsured patients.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota welcomed the news, but said the country “cannot rely on public outcry as the only solution for high prescription drug prices.”

Klobuchar reiterated calls for a Federal Trade Commission investigation and a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to explore why Mylan raised the price of EpiPens from $100 in 2008 to $500-$600 in 2016.

In a statement Thursday, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), called the company’s new initiative an attempt to make sure that “everyone who needs an EpiPen Auto-Injector gets one.”

Still, Bresch called pricing “only one part of the problem.” She pointed to “a significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and [patients] being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter.”

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, a free market think tank, warned that focusing on a single company and a single product was “a perfect storm of stupidity.” The center said the Food and Drug Administration must approve all drugs faster to get alternative treatments on the market that increase competition and drive down prices. The group also blamed health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers for “pocketing” savings negotiated with drugmakers instead of passing them on to consumers.

In an interview, Klobuchar agreed the issue of drug pricing is “much broader” than EpiPens.