It has not escaped the ears of parents with children with allergies and now it hasn’t escaped the eyes and ears of members of the U.S. Senate. The gigantic increase in the price of the EpiPen Auto-Injector, that is.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) demanded answers from the CEO of Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen Auto-Injector, following the massive price hike. As of May 2016, Mylan had increased the price of the life-saving device by over 480 percent – from $103.50 for a set of two in 2009 to $608.61 today – while Mylan’s own CEO’s compensation grew 670 percent.
“Parents of children with severe allergies live in fear each day that their children will have an allergic reaction. They shouldn’t also have to worry about whether they can afford the life-saving device that can protect their sons and daughters,” Brown said. “This price gouging hurts families who already struggle to get by – all while Mylan’s CEO collects an outrageous salary. The company owes the American people more than just an explanation – we need to see action to bring down the cost of this drug so it is accessible to those who need it.”
One of the most obvious uses of the EpiPen is by school health nurses. Kristina Monroe, RN, at Sciotoville Community Schools, said they did not keep the pen on hand, but that she is in the process of ordering it.
“Up until now, children have always brought them with them if they had it, and they brought them from home and we took in the medication that way,” Monroe told the Daily Times. “This year is the first year that we’ll have EpiPens in the facility as a generic medication.”
Has the price increase affected the ability to have the medication on hand?
“The Health Department, through the Ohio Department of Health, has arranged for schools to get EpiPens free,” Monroe said. “We applied for free EpiPens and I believe every school in Scioto county has done the same or is doing the same.”
Monroe said the ODH sent out a link to the Health Department locally and they sent it out to all school nurses.
Mylan has put forward a series of steps they purport would increase access to EpiPens, but none of these options offer a real solution. For example, on August 29, Mylan announced that they would produce a generic version of EpiPen to help increase access. The price of the generic EpiPen is three times higher than the cost of the branded EpiPen in 2007, so it will not represent a sufficient alternative to the excessive price of EpiPen.
The Ohio Association of School Nurses Non-Individual Specific Epinephrine Auto-Injector policy template reads in-part – “The district will obtain a prescriber-issued protocol specifying definitive orders for epinephrine auto-injector and dosages of epinephrine to be administered through them. This prescriber shall be a licensed health care professional authorized to prescribe drugs, as defined in section 4729.01 of the Revised Code.
In a letter to Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, Brown requested answers to a series of questions on how the price hike has impacted access to EpiPens for Ohio consumers and how their corrective actions to date will effect consumers and taxpayers. The letter was also signed by 19 other Senators.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.