EpiPens can be lifesavers for highly allergic people, who run the risk of anaphylactic shock when they consume even small amounts of foods they’re sensitive to.
Mylan caused a controversy last week when it raised the cost of the EpiPen two-pack to $600, more than six times more than the product cost in 2007, when it began selling the product, according to the New York Times newspaper.
Critics accused the Canonsburg, Penn., drugmaker of price gouging, a charge rejected by Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who blamed the controversy on health insurers.
“Because of the complexity and opaqueness of today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high-deductible health plans, we determined that bypassing the brand system in this case and offering an additional alternative was the best option,” Bresch said.
EpiPens deliver a dose of the hormone epinephrine, which can reverse severe allergic reactions.
EpiPen consumers generally keep more than one device at home or at work for emergencies, but the devices expire after one year and must be replaced.
Mylan also said last week that it would expand company programs that help people pay for the devices, making it so a family of four earning up to $97,200 would pay nothing out-of-pocket, and offering $300 discount cards.
The company said nearly 80 percent of patients with health insurance paid nothing extra for their EpiPens.
But political leaders have begun calling for high-level probes into Mylan’s pricing, the newspaper said, urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and the Food and Drug Administration to take action.