It has been a tough week for Mylan, makers of EpiPen, which is used in emergencies to treat severe allergies (food or otherwise) that may lead to anaphylactic shock.
Earlier this week, the company came under fire as lawmakers demanded an explanation for the massive price hike that has taken the cost of two EpiPens from $94 nine years ago to the $608 cost in May of this year.
In full on damage control mode, the company on Thursday issued a statement saying it would extend its coupon program which would offer a 50 percent discount to patients who have insurance. But the move isn’t placating consumers (or anyone else):
The furor began in July with parents who were so upset about the price increase, they launched an online petition, circulated it using social media and bombarded lawmakers with requests to do something.
By Monday, everyone was talking about Mylan and company CEO, Heather Bresch. EpiPen was trending on social media, lawmakers kept pressing the issue, actress Sarah Jessica Parker stopped promoting the drug and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the price hike is “outrageous, and just the latest example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.”
After the backlash, the company announced that it would offer new coupons to discount the drug. The $300 co-pay cards that Mylan says it will now offer patients is an increase from the current $100 prescription savings.
The company also doubled the eligibility for its patient assistance program making it possible for a family of four with income of $97,200 to pay nothing out of pocket for the drug. In addition, they will soon offer the option order the medicine directly from the company, which will presumably lower the cost as well.
EpiPens are syringes filled with the hormone epinephrine and they expire after a year which means users, who typically keep multiple pens in various locations, have to buy them on an annual basis.
While the discount reduces the amount paid out of pocket for some patients, institutions (health insurers, employers) and the government (medicare) will have to make up cost, which will ultimately lead to higher premiums for everyone.