EpiPen Maker Sticks It to Users and Everyone Else


For people with severe allergies, the EpiPen Auto-Injector, a prescription of epinephrine for emergency use, is a lifesaver. For Mylan NV, the manufacturer, it is a cash cow that in an $1 billion market with little competition. However, Mylan has become the new capitalist bad guy when its price increases forced more families to pay $600 out-of-pocket for two doses. The EpiPen maker has protested and introduced programs to help lower income patients pay for the medication, but the reality is that their pricing sticks it to users and everyone else with health insurance.

Mylan did not develop the EpiPen; it acquired the rights to sell the medication in 2007. Then, to capitalize on their investment, they raised EpiPen prices nearly 550 percent over the past eight years to $608.61 for two pens. This is not a case of supply and demand; it is a case of supplier taking advantage of demand to demand more.

Mylan faced the growing criticism over their pricing on Thursday and announced plans to help more patients cover part of their out-of-pocket costs. While that will help some lower income families, they did not change their pricing. So their stranglehold on the market means ensures that they will still make a profit from those sales and will collect the full price from everyone else.

The company’s press releases acknowledge how the changes in the insurance market have forced more patients to pay more for prescriptions. They noted that “Previously a patient may have paid a $25 co-pay for a prescription regardless of the product cost. Today, with a high deductible health plan, they must pay the full product cost, which they may have previously been unaware of, until their deductible is reached.”

Yes, copayments and deductibles have increased out-of-pocket costs for nearly everyone. Those in Bronze plans often have to put out $5,000 themselves before the plan starts covering their medical costs. Even those in expensive Platinum health care plans are paying more for brand name drugs with copayments reaching $50 to $100 for each. That means the insurance plan covers the remaining $500, which ultimately translates to everyone else helping to pay for the EpiPen maker’s strategy to stick it to users.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is quoted in a company release: “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. Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them.”

The growing furor against Mylan on EpiPen and earlier toward Turing Pharmaceuticals for a 5,000 percent increase on Daraprim illustrate the crux of the conflict between affordable health care and making a profit. When there is competition, companies are not going to stick it to drug users with exorbitant increases. However, Turing and Mylan purchased drugs with little or no competition that are lifesavers for patients. So their price increases are comparable to putting a gun to patients’ heads. The criticism of Mylan is warranted with the EpiPen maker trying to stick it to users, but everyone else has a vested interest in a solution that limits increases or tremendous prices on drugs needed to stay alive.

Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss

Wall Street Journal: Mylan Reacts to EpiPen Backlash
New York Times: Mylan to Offer Some Patients Aid on Cost of EpiPens
Web M.D.: The True Cost of EpiPen Coupons
Mylan: Mylan’s Commitment to EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector Access
Mylan: Mylan Taking Immediate Action to Further Enhance Access to EpiPen® (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Auto-Injector

Photo courtesy of Mylan

One Response to "EpiPen Maker Sticks It to Users and Everyone Else"

  1. sandcanyongal   August 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Part 1 of 2 A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    There are more than 40 federal offenses for which the death penalty can be applied to human beings, most of them connected to homicide of one kind or another. But countless homicides committed by the artificial persons we call corporations go unpunished every day. Apparently “personal responsibility” applies only to humans who are not operating behind the legal shield of corporate personhood.

    Time For A Corporate Death Penalty
    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
    Over the last hundred or so years, corporations have gained many of the rights previously accorded only to human beings. Corporations have the right to buy and sell anything or anyone that can be bought or sold. Corporations have claimed the right to lie in their advertising and PR as “free speech,” along with the right to help us mere humans choose our judges and elected officials with unlimited amounts of cash, including anonymous cash. Corporations have been awarded the right to patent genetic sequences of diseases and to monopolize their cures, as well as patent rights to living plants and animals not of their invention. A whole type of new anti-pollution regulation called “cap and trade” actually enshrines a corporate right to pollute and establishes exchanges upon which speculators can bid, trade and capture rents for those alleged rights. And unlike a working person, who has no right to next month’s let alone next year’s wages, legal scholars working for corporations have devised and popularized something they call the “regulatory takings” doctrine, under which corporations may claim and recover from the government rights to profits they might have made in years to come. And let’s not even talk about trillions in corporate welfare for banks, military contractors, Wal-Mart and others.
    While many argue that corporations have too many rights as it is, this might be a good time to extend them at least one more right we humans have kept for ourselves until now; the right to be put to death for serious crimes. Right now federal statutes alone offer individuals more than 40 different ways to earn the death penalty, including kidnapping, treason, aircraft hijacking, espionage and many varieties of murder, conspiracy, threatening murder and some drug crimes. Individual states offer the death penalty for a host of similar offenses.
    con’t next post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.