A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling for an investigation into the high price of EpiPens.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a ranking member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the “enormous increase in the price of EpiPens,” following a number of recent media reports regarding the devices' high cost.
Modern Healthcare reported on the high cost of EpiPens in March, noting that a lack of significant competition has allowed Amsterdam-based Mylan, the main EpiPen manufacturer, to charge exorbitant prices. Data provided to Modern Healthcare earlier this year showed that customers using insurance paid over $500 before using a $100-off coupon available to most patients from Mylan. Customers not using pharmaceutical benefits pay as much as $574, even with the discount card.
Consumers and advocates who spoke to Modern Healthcare earlier this year pointed out that even with a discount card and the best of insurance plans, EpiPens can still be a burden because of the need to buy multiple devices for work (or school) and home, and replacement devices in the event of an anaphylactic reaction. The devices also only last a year.
"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. “Patients all over the U.S. rely on these products, including my own daughter.”
Klobuchar called for a Judiciary Committee hearing and an immediate FTC investigation. She said the commission should report to Congress within 90 days on “why these outrageous price increases have become common and propose solutions that will better protect consumers.”
Competitors have tried to challenge Mylan's EpiPen but have had little success.
A generic product called Adrenaclick is on the market, but is not very popular and isn't always covered by insurers. France-based Sanofi challenged Mylan with the U.S. launch of “talking” auto-injector Auvi-Q in 2013, but recalled the device last year after patients reported inaccurate dosing. Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries had entered into an agreement with Mylan and Pfizer, which holds marketing rights for EpiPen in several countries, to market its own generic version of EpiPen starting in summer 2015, but later said approval likely won't happen until late 2016.
Teva did not immediately respond to a request on Monday for an update on its auto-injector development process.