EpiPen’s drastic price increase concerns allergy sufferers

By Danielle Silvia 
Staff Writer

Since the drug company Mylan bought the EpiPen in 2007, the price has increased from $100 to $600, according to The New York Times. The EpiPen is used to aid someone having a severe allergic reaction.

Washington Post reported that people generally carry around the EpiPen to guard themselves against anaphylactic shock, which typically comes as a surprise and, in serious cases, can kill an individual.

Mylan classifies the EpiPen as “a generic” medicine, as opposed to a “brand-name drug,” which allows them to give a smaller discount to the states and make state Medicaid programs overpay for the drug, according to The New York Times.

While many are concerned how they will afford this increased cost, the price hike also raises some questions about how thoroughly the government is monitoring the prices of drugs and other various medicines paid for through health programs.

In 2016, the federal government issued a rule that stated all companies with drugs that have been approved under what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as a “new drug application” must either reclassify them as brand-name drugs or seek a waiver, according to the New York Times. Mylan was one of the several companies that planned to seek a waiver. Mylan argued that the rule was a reversal of a longstanding policy and that many older products would not benefit from the “same patent protections and market exclusivity” as other branded products, according to the New York Times.

According to both the New York Times, Mylan wants to address the criticism by saying it will offer more financial help with costs that are deemed “out of pocket” for patients. The company also intends to expand the number of uninsured patients who can obtain EpiPens without cost.

A generic version with a lower retail price is said to be introduced to the market, as well, according to the New York Times. Many doubt this final part of the agreement, however, since Mylan the only company currently selling the EpiPen.

According to the New York Times, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, was one of the senators who wrote a letter asking the Medicaid agency for more information — her daughter has severe allergies and relies on the EpiPen.

“It just seems like we opened up a powder keg here, potentially, if in fact this is not only with Mylan but is just par for the course,” Klobuchar said. “The government has to go back and review all these drugs, and the practice has to stop.”