Public Outcry Hasn’t Actually Decreased The Price Of EpiPens

Image courtesy of Phillip Bradshaw

Remember last year around back-to-school time, when the public focused its ire on drug company Mylan for charging hundreds of dollars for $1 worth of the drug epinephrine in each EpiPen brand auto-injector? While that generated plenty of bad publicity for Mylan, turns out Mylan doesn’t actually care.

How much doesn’t it care? The New York Times spoke with Mylan higher-ups who didn’t want to be identified because they signed non-disclosure agreements, and they recounted a meeting over EpiPen prices with chairman Robert Coury.

When some executives brought up their concerns about the price hikes for EpiPen in recent years, multiple sources told the Times that Coury displayed two middle fingers and told them that FDA regulators, outraged members of Congress, investors, and anyone else concerned about the pricing could “go f— themselves.”

The executives also say that the price of EpiPens was expected to go up even more before the rush of negative publicity.

Times columnist Charles Duhigg learned first-hand that Mylan hadn’t actually changed anything when he went to refill his son’s EpiPen prescription. The pharmacy told him that he was responsible for paying $609 for a two-pack of pens.

Couldn’t he just get a generic? Getting the generic version meant having the pharmacy contact the doctor’s office for authorization, then paying $370 instead.

While insurance coverage and coupons bring the cost down for most consumers, others aren’t eligible for manufacturer discount programs and haven’t yet met their deductible for the year.

Mylan paid almost $500 million last year to settle allegations that it overcharged Medicaid customers for their EpiPens.

How can you prevent this when filling your own prescriptions? Having a doctor write a prescription for an “adrenaline auto-injector” instead of using the EpiPen brand. This can get you a generic Adrenaclick pen at CVS and other pharmacies, which is a significantly cheaper alternative if your or your child’s doctor approves.