Pharmaceutical company Mylan has recently come under heavy criticism from providers, patients, and politicians after raising the price of lifesaving EpiPen device by 600%; however the drugmaker has also abruptly raised the prices of a myriad of other drugs this year.
“Mylan has raised the prices more than 20 percent on 24 products, and more than 100 percent on seven products," wrote Wells Fargo senior analyst David Maris in a report in June.
EpiPen is an invaluable device that counteracts the allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, allowing patients who suffer from extreme and sometimes lethal allergic reactions the precious time they need to make it to a hospital for lifesaving treatment. The device has seen a more than fivefold price increase since 2008. The Netherlands-based Mylan N.V., which has headquarters in Hertfordshire, England, and Pittsburgh, has raised prices three times a year over the past nine years, forcing consumers to pay more than $600 for a package of two syringes.
Maris warned that Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch, who saw her compensation increase by nearly 700% from 2007 to 2015, could draw "greater regulatory scrutiny and headline risk" as a result of such price increases - and indeed, she has.
As for other drugs with price increases, Mylan has implemented a stunning 542% price increase for the drug ursodiol – a generic medication for treating gallstones.
Maris also pointed to a 444% increase in another generic drug, metoclopramide, which is commonly used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as well as gastroparesis.
Mylan also jacked up the price of Dicyclomine, a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome by 400%.
One of Mylan’s biggest selling generics, tolterodine, which is used to treat overactive bladders, saw its price shoot up by 56% this year, according to Maris.
Mylan has not yet responded to any request for comment. However, the company noted in a statement on Monday that many patients are eligible for access to EpiPens at no cost to themselves through its discount programs.
Who uses EpiPens?
Approximately 40 million Americans are severely allergic to bee stings, spider bites, and foods such as nuts, shellfish and egg. They are at a risk of a condition known as anaphylactic shock, where symptoms quickly escalate from wheezing, hives and skin swelling to trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, and convulsions and, without treatment, possibly death.
As a precaution, many of them carry EpiPens, which contain the hormone epinephrine – the best "antidote.” According to data by IMS Health, last year, U.S. doctors filled out more than 3.6 million for two-packs of EpiPens. That made Mylan earn nearly $1.7 billion. Mylan officials are also coming under heavy scrutiny as top executives have seen salary raises commensurate with the steep price hikes of their drugs.
How does the device work?
When an emergency arises, the syringe is jabbed against the thigh. Epinephrine is injected into muscle tissue by the needle inside. The syringes expire after a year, meaning they must be replaced annually.