Pricing trouble ahead for Mylan? Analyst calls recent hikes 'beacons for scrutiny'

A months-long political and public firestorm over large drug price increases hasn’t been enough to bring the practice to a full stop. Now, Mylan ($MYL) is under the radar as a new report documents several price hikes this year, ranging from 15% for EpiPen to much larger increases of 400% and 500% for other meds.

Documenting price increases from January to June across the specialty pharma sector, Wells Fargo ($WFC) noted that Mylan raised the prices of 7 products by 100% or more and 24 products by 20% or more. Gallstone medication ursodiol saw the biggest jump at 542% over the period, while GERD drug metoclopramide and IBS med dicyclomine increased 444% and 400%, respectively.

In a note to clients, Wells Fargo's David Maris called the price increases “beacons for scrutiny” in the current drug pricing climate, what with Congress, payers and the public all bearing down on the industry’s pricing ways.

Mylan, however, disputes the report, saying in a statement that the analysis was “flawed” and “misleading” because it focused on “a small number of products out of the more than 1,400 products Mylan sells globally.”

“Mylan has always been known to have one of the industry's broadest and most globally diversified business models and portfolios, which we have successfully managed by balancing numerous variables, including the natural price reductions that have always been inherent to the generics industry," the company's statement reads. " ... Mylan's business model is not today, nor has it ever been, premised on price hikes." 

The Dublin-based pharma also pointed to a subsequent report by Susquehanna Financial Group, which said a majority of the products mentioned were “small sellers.” In the case of ursodiol, the report says, Mylan was out of the market for several years as other companies “significantly” raised the price.

But some other drugmakers haven't raised prices as much as Mylan has this year, the analysts said. Using Medi-Span info for their report, they also looked into data for Teva ($TEVA), Mallinckrodt ($MNK) and Allergan ($AGN), ultimately coming away “unconcerned about their pricing in 2016 so far.”

The new attention is surely unwelcome for Mylan as companies across biopharma seek to distance themselves from Valeant ($VRX) and Turing Pharmaceuticals, both which have been at the center of public and political scrutiny for almost a year. Since last fall, though, other drugmakers have been implicated in an industrywide pricing examination, including Mylan and Pfizer ($PFE). The Senate Special Committee on Aging earlier this month asked the companies--and others--to explain rising prices of naloxone, a med used to reverse the effects of opioids.

And the spotlight isn't passing over the generics field. As part of an effort to stem rising drug costs, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) have been working to make generics manufacturers offer state Medicaid programs discounts linked to inflation. In December, the pair pointed to a report finding that Medicaid could've saved $1.4 billion over a decade if companies were forced to offer such discounts.

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