Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is calling out the makers of the EpiPen, asking them to justify the massive price hike for the device.
Writing a letter to Mylan, the company that creates the EpiPens, he questions why the price has steadily increased – a 400% swing – since 2007.
“The substantial price increase has caused significant concern among patients,” Grassley wrote in his letter. “I have heard from one father in Iowa who recently purchased a refill of his daughter’s EpiPen prescription. He reported that to fill the prescription, he had to pay over $500 for one EpiPen.”
The extremely popular and heavily used, and relied upon, device treats serious allergic reactions through an injection of epinephrine. With so many people dependent on the device, the price hike has quickly become a pressing issue. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent her own letter to Mylan on Monday; Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton has lobbied against rising drug prices throughout her campaign.
The Obama administration is in the middle of finding a way to counter high drug prices. Andy Slavitt, acting Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sent this Tweet on EpiPen prices last Sunday:
We can make drug inflation more transparent & address unchecked increases without damaging innovation. https://t.co/6GmEDHZunf
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) August 22, 2016
In response to Grassley, Mylan pushed their programs that give discounts on EpiPens, and that the company has supplied 700,000 free devices to schools since 2013. They also made noted of higher deductibles in insurance plans, which leaves consumers exposed to these prices.
“This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost,” Mylan said. . “This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers and payors to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”
Still, Grassley is pressing for answers on how they arrived at today’s price, and what discount programs entails – who qualifies, how easy it is to take advantage of, how much of a discount is offered, etc.
“In the case of EpiPens, I am concerned that the substantial price increase could limit access to a much-needed medication,” Grassley writes. “In addition, it could create an unsafe situation for patients as people, untrained in medical procedures, are incentivized to make their own kits from raw materials.”