Back in June, Wells Fargo’s David Maris highlighted several price hikes Mylan had implemented in 2016, calling them “beacons for scrutiny” in the current drug pricing climate. Now, sure enough, the company is facing the prospect of investigations following years of price increases on its big-selling EpiPen.
Citing a 400% price increase on the epinephrine injection since 2009, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has called for the Senate Judiciary Committee and Federal Trade Commission to investigate the pricing practices. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is seeking info on the topic, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), often an outspoken pharma critic, tweeted that "There's no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600."
In a statement, Mylan said “ensuring access to epinephrine--the only first-line treatment for anaphylaxis--is a core part of our mission.” The company stressed that nearly 80% of commercially insured patients on the company’s patient assistance program got the med at no cost in 2015, and its school access program has distributed 700,000 injectors to 65,000 schools since 2012.
According to Klobuchar, an EpiPen two-pack cost patients $100 dollars in 2009, but in 2016 the price is $500 or, for some patients, $600. In a recent note, Maris said Wells Fargo had spoken to a pharmacist who had patients unable to afford the med.
"This outrageous increase in the price of EpiPens is occurring at the same time that Mylan Pharmaceutical is exploiting a monopoly market advantage that has fallen into its lap,” Klobuchar said in a statement, citing stumbles by Sanofi, which suspended its Auvi-Q rival after a recall, and Teva, which has been struggling to get a competitor to market.
In March, the FDA rejected a generic competitor from Teva, due to “certain major deficiencies,” a setback Teva said would cause “significant” delays. And in November, Sanofi ran into injector problems with its Auvi-Q competition, resulting in a nixed marketing deal and an uncertain future for that injector.
But the scrutiny shouldn’t come as a surprise, given developments in pharma’s pricing climate over the last year. After Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals kicked off a pricing firestorm, public and political attention on pharma pricing has spread industrywide, with other companies--including Pfizer, Allergan, Amphastar and Endo--also falling into the spotlight.
And EpiPen isn’t the only product on which Mylan has faced questions. Back in June, Senators asked providers of naloxone--Pfizer, Mylan, Amphastar ($AMPH), Adapt Pharma and Kaleo--to explain price increases on that med, which is used to reverse the effects of opioids.
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