The company has tried to ease concerns with discount coupons and programs to help families cover the cost of the EpiPen. However, according to Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, these efforts don’t go nearly far enough.
“Offering a meager discount only after widespread bipartisan criticism is exactly the same tactic used by drug companies across the industry to distract from their exorbitant price increases, as our investigation has shown repeatedly,” Cummings said. “Nobody is buying this PR move anymore.”
Mylan increased the value of coupons it gives EpiPen patients, while expanding a financial assistance program the company claims will benefit many who rely on the auto-injector to stop severe allergic reactions. But the actual price of the EpiPen hasn’t changed since it jumped from about $100 seven years ago to more than $600.
“This isn’t an EpiPen issue, this isn’t a Mylan issue — this is a health care issue,” said Mylan CEO Heather Bresch. “My frustration is there is a list price of $608. …There are four or five hands that the product touches and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter.”
Many patients will be paying less for the EpiPen under the new plan. Coupons that were previously worth up to $100 will now cover up to $300. However, that still leaves $300 in out-of-pocket costs – a price that is simply too high for many patients to afford.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is one of several lawmakers demanding more information about the EpiPen price increase. Mylan holds a virtual monopoly on the auto-injector after a recall took its main competitor off the U.S. market.
“If you could put up a $300 gift certificate, why not do it the simpler way, just lower the price to a reasonable level?” Grassley said.
Meanwhile, Mylan faces at least two class action lawsuits alleging that the EpiPen price hike violated state consumer protection laws, which prohibit “unconscionable” acts in connection with consumer transactions. The company has defended the price increase, saying it spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the product. It has also said it recoups less than half the list price for its EpiPen auto-injectors.
Source : CBS News