CATCH THE BUZZ August 27, 2016
As school season is about to begin, members of Congress express concern over the soaring prices of Mylan’s EpiPen, (EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.3 mg or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.15 mg) voicing the complaints of anxious parents.
According to an article in the New York Times:
Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, was the latest to weigh in on Monday, sending a letter to the head of the pharmaceutical company Mylan, which produces EpiPens. Mr. Grassley demanded an explanation for the 400 percent price increase — to as much as $600 — since the company acquired the product in 2007.
Earlier, Senator Amy Klobuchar called for a Judiciary Committee to inquire into “the pricing and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.”
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng submitted a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requesting a hearing on the price increase of Mylan’s EpiPens.
“As a mother, and as a Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Kids’ Safety Caucus, I urge my colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to look into the recent price increase of EpiPens. Thousands of Americans rely on EpiPens in a given year, and perhaps no time is more important in the purchasing of these devices than the beginning of a new school year,” said Meng. “The free market can be a wonderful engine for good in our society, and it has certainly led to the production of countless medical innovations. We must be vigilant, however, to not cross the line of price-gouging, especially when a product has been around for a generation and is incredibly cheap to produce. It is my hope that every parent with a child who suffers from serious allergies can find an EpiPen, or its equivalent, that their household afford.”
Mylan said that “product improvements” have driven up the cost of EpiPens. They further add that the company offers discounts and that most of the devices are covered by the insurance. Other sources say that Mylan issued a statement, “pointing the finger at high-deductible health plans that require consumers to pay much more out of pocket for many drugs.”
According to WILX News:
Doctors say [the] technology hasn’t changed much and there is no real reason for the price hike. However, a competitor of the EpiPen recently stopped producing its product, giving Mylan—the maker of EpiPens—somewhat of a monopoly.
Mylan acquired the EpiPen in 2007, at which time pharmacies paid less than $100 for a two-pen set. In May of 2016, however, the price rose to $608.61, according to reports.
On social media, a petition to Congress has emerged with 48,000 signatures, called “Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging.”
FLASH UPDATE: AT PRESS TIME…
The pharmaceutical company at the center of the EpiPen price-gouging controversy has decided to lower the cost of its medication for some patients.
Mylan, which had hiked the price of the medication by more than 400 percent, announced plans to cover up to $300 — or roughly 50 percent — of the cost of a pack of two EpiPens for patients who were paying the full amount.
The company also plans to double the eligibility for its patient assistance program, which will eliminate out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and under-insured patients and families.
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in a statement, “We … are taking immediate action to help ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen … gets one.”
Mylan pointed part of the blame on the price hike on the insurance industry, which is becoming a common defense for the pharmaceutical industry.
More patients and families have enrolled in high-deductible health plans due in part to the Affordable Care Act and this has led to “higher costs for their medicine,” the company said.
Bresch is the daughter of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. According to Bloomberg, Manchin has been silent on the issue.
Lawmakers called for hearings following the price hike of the allergy medication.
Hillary Clinton on Wednesday slammed the price hike and said it’s wrong when “drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them.”
EpiPens are used in the beekeeping industry when an individual has an allergic reaction to a honey bee sting. Anaphylaxis can result in death and immediate action is required. Many beekeepers have these on hand if they frequently give public demonstrations with bees, or are working with beginners who do not yet know if an allergic reaction may occur as they have not been stung by a honey bee, perhaps ever. Below are instructions from the manufacturer on use.
Use EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.3 mg or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors right away when you have an allergic emergency (anaphylaxis). Get emergency medical help right away. You may need further medical attention. Only a healthcare professional should give additional doses of epinephrine if you need more than two injections for a single anaphylactic episode. EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® should only be injected into the middle of your outer thigh (upper leg), through clothing if necessary. Do not inject into your veins, buttocks, fingers, toes, hands or feet. Hold the leg of young children firmly in place before and during injection to prevent injuries. In case of accidental injection, please seek immediate medical treatment.