autoinjectors

People are furious about the price of the EpiPen — here's how much it's increased in the last decade

There’s an uproar over the price of the anaphylaxis treatment EpiPen, with lawmakers and politicians including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton blasting the drug’s maker, Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

In light of the outrage, on Thursday, Mylan promised to cover up to $300 of the cost for a pack of two auto-injectors of the allergy treatment for some people. 

In 2007, when Mylan purchased Merck’s generic drugs unit, including the EpiPen, the treatment cost $93.88 for a set of two autoinjectors, according to Truven Health Analytics. After a series of price hikes in the following nine years, the life-saving drug now costs $608.61.

Here’s the path the EpiPen’s price has taken since Mylan acquired the rights to manufacture the drug:

(Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Truven Health Analytics)

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The EpiPen® is damned expensive, but does it write well?
It has been reported all over that the EpiPen, a lifesaving emergency allergy treatment, is now about $600.
By John Skylar

If you haven’t been following the story, EpiPen, a lifesaving autoinjector for people with severe allergies, has been making the news as the latest price hike item in pharmaceuticals. A lot of folks want to portray this as unbridled greed, but the reasons behind this might be more complicated. As a communications professional in the industry, I try to explain why an old product can still cost a lot to its parent company.

Idea
  • So, the couple of yall that talk to me have suggested I do more writing. I forgot another idea I had if you guys are intetested in another one shot.
  • So I had this idea playing DOOM 1 right? The Berserker kits.
  • What if Zootopia had something similar with Nighthowlers? Like a smaller concentration of Nighthowler serum and/or mixed with a drug cocktail to keep the user stable enough to think while on it.
  • Lets say guy is in a bad spot, outnumbered and all by baddies. Pops an autoinjector of that and goes nutso, getting the huge boost Nighthowler victimd got but retaining most of their control.
  • Maybe some behavior changes like in the Doom comic. When he was on the Beserker kit he literally was half crazy and felt like a god amongst men(demons) so maybe add in the possibility of drug abuse of this cocktail for story purposes.
  • Whats the veto folks?
The CEO of EpiPen maker Mylan once claimed she had an MBA that she never earned

(Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.Alex Gallardo/Reuters)
Drugmaker Mylan has come under fire this week for price increases upward of 500% since 2009 to epinephrine autoinjector EpiPen.

As it turns out, this isn’t CEO Heather Bresch's first brush with controversy. In 2008, West Virginia University stripped her of an MBA that she claimed she earned.

The situation began when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made a routine call to verify Bresch’s credentials as the new head of Mylan. Accusations of political cronyism and the resignation of three WVU faculty members followed.

In 2007, the press release announcing Bresch’s ascension to CEO noted that she “earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in international studies and political science from West Virginia University.”

By December, however, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that West Virginia University awarded Bresch the MBA after only rewriting documents that originally showed she completed approximately half the credits necessary for the degree.

Initially, WVU told the Post-Gazette that Bresch did not have an MBA but, several days later, insisted that she earned one in 1998 and blamed the discrepancy on poor record-keeping, and later an unpaid fee. Throughout the Post-Gazette’s inquiry, the university and Bresch maintained that she earned her MBA at the university, while professors, classmates, and even friends cast doubt. Some feared for their jobs after speaking out.

The Post-Gazette’s inquiry also revealed several big names in the West Virginia political community tied to Bresch. Most notably, her father, Joe Manchin, held the governorship, but Bresch also went to high school with WVU President Mike Garrison, and the college’s largest benefactor, Milan Puskar, chaired Mylan at the time.

Soon after the accusations, the university commissioned a special panel to look into Bresch’s degree. The panel’s report, released in 2008, found that "Ms. Bresch did not earn an MBA at West Virginia University.“

While the panel called the decision "seriously flawed” and “reflect[ing] poor judgment,” the members did not think it revealed flaws in WVU’s record-keeping, as the university initially claimed. The panel also found that the university knew these excuses were false.

(The West Virginia University campus in Morgantown, West Virginia.Via Flickr)

Finally, the panel revealed the primary reason why the university gave Bresch the MBA: a conversation she had with Craig Walker, the president’s chief of staff, after the registrar provided a statement to the Post-Gazette that Bresch hadn’t, in fact, earned her degree.

After word spread that WVU administrators had erroneously awarded a degree to the governor’s daughter that she hadn’t earned, Garrison, provost Gerald Lang, and business-school dean R. Stephen Sears resigned.

Bresch’s current LinkedIn profile lists her education as a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political studies from West Virginia University, but no MBA. Mylan’s bio of Bresch also doesn’t mention an MBA.

Neither Mylan, West Virginia University, nor Joe Manchin’s press team responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Bresch, however, told Fortune in 2015: “I certainly to this day believe I did everything I needed to do to get my degree.”

Read the Post-Gazette’s 2007 report here and the following investigation here.

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The Price of EpiPens Is Skyrocketing. Should Congress Intervene?

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The cost of EpiPens, the most popular autoinjector medication for those suffering from severe (and potentially deadly) allergies, has risen more than 400 percent in the last four years. EpiPens went from about $57 in 2007, when the drug company Mylan acquired the product, to more than $600 for a two-dose package, according to Bloomberg. And now, members of Congress are asking for answers.

Tell your reps

Does Congress need to do something to lower the price of EpiPens? Or will that send the government down a slippery slope of interfering in business decisions?

What happened?

Basically, EpiPen has a huge corner on the market. The brand name is basically synonymous with the product, STAT News reporter Ike Swetlitz told the Washington Post, comparing it to brands like Kleenex and Xerox.

And in the last year a lot of the brand’s competition has fallen away. Sanofi, which makes the Auvi-Q autoinjector, had to recall the product last October and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries had their own version nixed by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, Bloomberg reports.

Those factors have led Mylan and their EpiPen to have, as NBC News describes it, a “near monopoly,” which has allowed them to raise prices.

Martin Shkreli weighs in on EpiPen scandal, calls drug makers ‘vultures’ https://t.co/hc52Yj6E4A

— CNBC (@CNBC)

August 20, 2016

A Mylan spokeswoman told Regulatory Focus (which writes about health care industry regulations) that “in 2015, nearly 80% of commercially insured patients using a Mylan savings card received EpiPen Auto-Injector for free.” The company has also given out “more than 700,000 free EpiPens” to “more than 65,000 schools, approximately half of all US schools,” the site reported.

What Congress is considering

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Mylan CEO Heather Bresch on Monday, asking the company to explain the price increase. Grassley noted in his letter that Congress passed a law in 2013 that gives health grants to states who require their schools to carry epinephrine. (To be clear: The law does not mean that they need to carry EpiPen-branded injectors, specifically).

Grassley said that he had heard from a constituent who paid $500 for a single EpiPen. And that given the number of children in the U.S. covered by federal health insurance, he is growing concerned about additional costs to taxpayers.

“In the case of EpiPens, I am concerned that the substantial price increase could limit access to a much-needed medication,” Grassley wrote.

I’m demanding that #Mylan lower the price of its #EpiPen for all Americans that rely on it for their health & safety https://t.co/JCvFGkLbCg

— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal)

August 22, 2016

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who sits on the Judiciary Committee as well, also wrote a letter to Mylan, demanding that the company reduce its prices to ensure that the EpiPen “remains affordable for all Americans.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), also a member of the Judiciary Committee, has called for a public hearing on the matter. But she is taking her colleagues’ inquiries a step further. Klobuchar wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission released on Monday, asking them to investigate whether Mylan has violated antitrust laws. Klobuchar notes in the letter that her own daughter uses an EpiPen.

While Mylan is allowed to raise the price of EpiPens, Klobuchar writes, the FTC should investigate whether they used “incentives or exclusionary contracts with insurers, distributors, or pharmacies” to prevent other products from competing with the EpiPen. Klobuchar notes that there are cheaper alternatives to the EpiPen, but that some of her constituents have reported that their insurance won’t cover those options.

“There may be benign reasons for EpiPen’s market success, but the FTC should consider other potential explanations. When a company imposes enormous costs on American consumers on such an important product, the FTC must ensure that no illegal actions have occurred,” Klobuchar wrote.

There’s no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600. https://t.co/rVWUlMxD0Q

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)

August 18, 2016

This could be awkward

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) daughter.

What’s next?

Klobuchar has asked the FTC to respond to her inquiry within 90 days. Congress returns from its August recess on Sept. 6.

— Sarah Mimms

Photo by Greg Friese/Flickr