Consumers lashed out at the makers of the allergy shot EpiPen when company executives announced that the cost of the lifesaving medication jumped to more than $600 for a two-pack or reportedly about a 600 percent increase over the last decade.
With the start of school, many families, even with insurance, said they couldn’t afford even one pack for their children who have severe allergic reactions causing their throats to close and requiring immediate medical action.
Even the U.S. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded documents from the company, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a generic drug company, to justify the rise in cost. CNBC reported that it costs just a few dollars to make the EpiPen.
WebMD reports that the dose of medicine in each EpiPen is about $1.
Company CEO Heather Bresch took to the media to justify the price hike amid questions of her salary being increasing from $2.5 million in 2007 to now nearly $19 million. “I am running a business,” she told The New York Times in an Aug. 26, 2016 story.
The CNBC story reported that the company reported $9.45 billion in revenue in 2015 or an increase of $1.46 billion from the year before.
Since the backlash, Mylan announced that it would dispense co-pay higher coupons to families to cover high deductibles after insurance ($300 coupons instead of $100 co-pay coupons), but consumer advocates say that still leaves employers or insurers to cover the difference that is ultimately passed on to consumers in higher premiums and deductibles.
A letter of complaint is being drafted to the Federal Trade Commission on this price increase by the consumer group Knowledge Ecology International, according to The New York Times story.
Actress Sarah Jessica Parker has two sons with severe nut allergies and was part of a short campaign boosting the product, but she took to Instagram in late August to say that she was, “disappointed, saddened and deeply concerned” about the hike that may make the emergency allergy treatment unaffordable to many families.