(Bloomberg) — Mylan NV took some steps to alleviate patients’ cost burden for its $600 EpiPen emergency allergy shots following pressure from politicians including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who called past price increases “outrageous” on Wednesday.
In response to the intense political pressure of the past few days, Mylan moved Thursday to expand assistance programs that help patients with high out-of-pocket expenses — but didn’t go as far as cutting the treatment’s list price. Mylan has been under fire for increasing the price to more than $600 for a two-pack, from $57 for a single pen in 2007.
Chief Executive Officer Heather Bresch, the daughter of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was quick to react to the mounting political scrutiny, days after lawmakers started to express outrage about EpiPen’s 400 percent price hike and called for investigations. The criticisms, topped by Democratic nominee Clinton’s statement on Wednesday, had sent the shares down 11 percent in just three days.
The stock pared some of the losses Thursday, and was up 3.7 percent to $44.73 at 9:40 a.m. New York time.
Mylan will expand existing programs to help people with high out-of-pocket expenses, according to a statement Thursday. By using a savings card, patients will get as much as $300 toward their EpiPen 2-Pak, which should effectively reduce costs by 50 percent for those who were previously paying the full list price. The drugmaker is also doubling eligibility for its patient assistance program so now a family of four that makes up to $97,200 would not have to pay for the EpiPen.
“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,” Mylan’s Bresch said in a statement. “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.”
The EpiPen price increases drew particular attention in Washington because CEO Bresch had successfully pushed legislation to encourage use of the EpiPen in schools nationwide. Mylan spent about $4 million in 2012 and 2013 on lobbying for access to EpiPens generally and for legislation, including the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Office of the Clerk for the House of Rep.s.
Mylan was the latest drugmaker to provoke congressional ire for steep price hikes. Martin Shkreli and executives from the company he used to lead, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, and executives from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. were called before congressional committees this year to explain why they bought the rights to older drugs that lacked competition and raised the prices.
Members of Congress who began demanding an explanation for the EpiPen price increases in the past days included Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, on Monday asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into whether Mylan had done anything to deny competitors access to the market in order to keep raising prices, pointing to a competitor product, Adrenaclick, that she said is less expensive but has only minimal sales.
On Wednesday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging asked Bresch to turn over information used by Mylan’s board of directors related to the price increases. The panel wrote a letter to Bresch asking her to “provide a briefing to Committee staff on the pricing of EpiPen at a mutually convenient time no later than two weeks from today.” The letter was signed by the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and its top Democrat, Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Have you followed us on Facebook?