NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mylan, now in the crosshairs over severe price hikes for its EpiPen, says it will expand programs that lower out-of-pocket costs by as much as half.
Mylan N.V. said Thursday that the patient cost will be reduced through a savings card that will cover up to $300 for an EpiPen 2-Pak.
The price of the two-dose package topped $600 earlier this year, up from about $94 just nine years ago according to a price-tracking database.
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC that lowering the price was not an option.
“Had we reduced the list price, I couldn’t ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen gets one,” she said.
Mylan did say, however, that it was doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program to people with incomes four times higher than the federal poverty level.
Patients will also be able to order the injected emergency medicine for severe allergic reactions directly from the company, to help lower costs.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the move could save some patients $300, but most said this still doesn’t explain why the price of the drug has increased 600 percent in less than a decade.
One health researcher said insurers and employers will keep having to pay the higher price, and that it will be reflected in higher premiums.
“Everybody suffers, except the Mylan investors,” Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University said.
Hillary Clinton and members of Congress from both parties have quickly ramped up criticism of the company and its pricing.
The company previously told CBS News the price increase reflected “a significant investment to support the device over the years” adding that they are committed “to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”
The EpiPen is filled with epinephrine, which works to counter the effects of a severe allergic reaction.
The price hike has forced a lot of families to make tough decisions when it comes to getting their hands on the life saving drug.
Lisa Tirone has two sons — Nick and Sam — who both have life threatening food allergies, from tree nuts to sesame and coconut.
“Anaphylaxis for both, very serious,” Lisa said, “And you’re at their mercy. You need this.”
Higher prices have forces some aprents to stockpile expired pens against the advice of their doctors. Some have scoured eBay for the drug, and some have driven to Canada where they are available for half the price.
When a pharmacist told Amie Vialet De Montbel that two EpiPen packs for 12-year-old Marcello would cost her $1,200 out of pocket — she was beside herself searching for an alternative.
A nurse suggested going to a pharmacy and getting vials filled with adrenaline.
“I could bring them back to the office, where they would pre-fill the syringes, and I would get three more syringes I could pre-fill and I could self-administer them,” she said.
The prevailing medical advice is not to make your own, but Dr. Len Horovitz of Lenox Hospital said parents can easily master giving a homemade shot.
“You don’t need to be a doctor or nurse to know how to draw up solutions. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t unless they had bad arthritis or were clumsy or panicking,” he said.
It may be tough not to panic when your child is having a life threatening attack. It’s not something Lisa Tirone feels comfortable doing.
“I can’t imagine,” she said.
She can understand why skyrocketing costs has so many feeling desperate.
Her son has severe allergies, but on Thursday, she joined other parents in expressing outrage over the price increase.
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