SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – After a furor over what appears to be price-gouging, the drug maker of life-saving the EpiPen® Auto-Injector is offering discounts to patients who use them.
Since 2007, the cost for two syringes of the drug increased more than 400% — from $94 to $600. Public outcry has prompted calls for an investigation by lawmakers in Congress.
Thursday, Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company, Mylan announced it is offering a savings card worth $300, effectively cutting the price for a 2-pack of EpiPens in half. The discount would go to patients with health plans with high deductibles.
The company says it will also loosen the eligibility requirements for discounts so uninsured and underinsured patients can qualify. By raising the patient assistance threshold to 400% of the federal poverty level, a family of 4 making under $97,000 will pay nothing out-of-pocket for the drug.
EpiPens inject epinephrine or adrenaline into patients experiencing a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock can be triggered by allergies to a number of things including foods like peanuts and shellfish, insect bites, even latex. The reaction occurs quickly, and if untreated may prove fatal. Hundreds of people die every year from allergic reactions.
The dose of epinephrine inside each syringe costs about a dollar but Mylan insists that other expenses have driven up the cost of the drug.
The company’s CEO, Heather Bresch has come under considerable fire because the price hike occurred since she took charge of Mylan in 2012. Since then, Bresch, daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-Virginia), also enjoyed a 671% salary increase.
In a statement issued Thursday, Bresch stopped short of blaming the problem entirely on America’s healthcare system.
“Price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today’s actions,” she said. “All involved must also take steps to help meaningfully address the U.S. healthcare crisis, and we are committed to do our part to drive change in collaboration with policymakers, payers, patients and healthcare professionals.”
Mylan did mention any plan to lower the cost of its EpiPen, so patients who do not meet the requirements outlined in Thursday’s announcement will continue to pay full price.