Facing Public Backlash and Pressure from Clinton, Mylan Caves and Lowers Price of EpiPen

Published: Aug 26, 2016

Facing Public Backlash and Pressure from Clinton, Mylan Caves and Lowers Price of EpiPen August 25, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

PITSBURGH – After a week of public backlash for the high price of its top-selling epinephrine delivery system and the high salaries of its top executives, Mylan NV said it will enhance access to its EpiPen Auto-Injector by lowering the costs through a variety of company programs.

On Thursday morning, Mylan announced plans to increase customer access to the life-saving EpiPen by expanding company programs to offset the high cost of the precise-dose auto-injectors, as well as its free EpiPen program for schools across the United States. After sliding all week due to the public outcry about the price of EpiPens, shares of company stock began to rebound in morning trading, rising more than 2 percent to hit $44.02 as of 10 a.m.

Since company acquisition of the EpiPen in 2007, the price has dramatically increased from $57 to nearly $500, a 400 percent increase. The EpiPen generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue for 2015, accounting for about 40 percent of Mylan’s overall earnings. The revenue stream has not only been good for the company’s bottom line, but also served as a catalyst for big payday raises for its top executives, including Chief Executive Officer Heather Bresch. Since 2007, the year Mylan acquired the EpiPen, her salary has skyrocketed from $2.4 million to $18.9 million as of last year. When that information came to light, so too did stories of people choosing to forego paying for the emergency-use EpiPen due to the high cost, as well as public outrage simply over the price of the autoinjector—a common theme this election cycle that started last year with Turing Pharmaceutical's 5,000 percent overnight price hike of the toxoplasmosis drug, Daraprim. In fact several members of the U.S. Senate, as well as Hillary Clinton, called for the company to reduce the price of the EpiPen. Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.

This morning Mylan said it was reducing the costs of the EpiPen, through the use of a savings card, by up to $300.

“This will effectively reduce by 50 percent the cost exposure for patients who would have otherwise paid the full list price for EpiPen Auto-Injector,” the company said in a statement.

Mylan also said it is doubling eligibility for its patient assistance program to 400% of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for their EpiPen. Lastly, the company said it is opening a pathway for people to order the pen directly from the company as part of an effort that will reduce costs.

"We have been a long-term, committed partner to the allergy community and are taking immediate action to help ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen Auto-Injector gets one. We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter,” Bresch said in a statement. “Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them. However, price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today's actions. 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, payors, patients and healthcare professionals."

In order to promote transparency, Mylan said it will include the “entire economic story of the EpiPen supply chain” on its website.

In an interview with CNBC, Bresch laid blame on the healthcare system for the high cost of the EpiPen. She said the product must pass through “four or five hands” and companies before it reaches patients—with each company taking a bit of the money, causing the product to increase in price.

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