Politicians Enter Fray Over EpiPen Price Debate

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: August 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton weighed into the debate over the sharp rise in the price of EpiPen auto-injectors on Wednesday. “EpiPens can be the difference between life and death,” tweeted Clinton. “There’s no justification for these price hikes.”

The pharmaceutical firm Mylan NV is under fire for raising the wholesale price of a set of the lifesaving allergy devices by an estimated 500 percent since 2008. An EpiPen two-pack now costs up to $600, and the most recent price increase is hitting parents as they renew back-to-school prescriptions.

“It’s wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them,” Clinton said in a statement.

Other politicians are also speaking out about the affordability of the auto-injectors, which currently have almost no competition in the marketplace. Earlier this week, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Mylan’s chief executive questioning the price increase and asking for an explanation.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chief Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee whose daughter has food allergies, also called for investigation.

Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill, respectively the Republican chairman and Democrat top representative on the Senate Aging Committee are seeking an explanation from Mylan for the boost in pricing.

Mylan has not yet directly explained its pricing, but in a statement pointed to rising health insurance deductibles that have led to higher costs for consumers.

“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,” the company said.

Mylan also noted that in 2015, its patient assistance program led to almost 80 percent of commercially insured patients receiving the auto-injector. It also spoke of its school programs that have led to the distribution of more than 700,000 free “stock epinephrine” auto-injectors since 2012.