EpiPen price causes furor among allergy sufferers

Brittany Karno, Staff

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Heather Bresch, CEO of the pharmaceutical company Mylan, gave her testimony to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Recently, Mylan has faced controversy concerning the cost of its EpiPens. “You don’t have to talk to somebody very long to figure out that they have to have [an] EpiPen. It’s not optional,” said U.S. Congressman and Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz. “The price of this has gone from roughly $99 for one to more than $600 for two in a very short amount of time.”

“I think many people incorrectly assume that we make $600 off each pen. It’s simply not true,” said Bresch. “In the complicated world of pharmaceutical pricing there is something known as the Wholesale Acquisition Cost.”

According to Bresch, the WAC for two EpiPens has increased by 51 percent since 2014. However, the net revenue Mylan receives after rebates and fees has increased from $235 to $274. The annual increase to Mylan for the past two years has been approximately 8 percent per year. After the subtraction of cost of goods and EpiPen costs, Mylan profit is approximately $100, $50 per pen.

Michelle Karno, mother of five who resides in Jefferson Parish, has personally experienced the EpiPen price increase; she purchased an EpiPen for her 9-year-old daughter six months ago. Her daughter’s pediatrician, who recommended Karno keep an EpiPen on hand in the case of an allergic reaction, gave her a $100 voucher for the injector. However, even with the voucher, Karno found herself spending $500 on a single EpiPen at Target’s pharmacy.

“The EpiPen price increase is emblematic of what’s going on in the world today,” said Karno, who will not buy another EpiPen in the future, as her daughter’s allergic reactions are not extreme enough to require one. Karno said she felt scammed after learning cheaper epinephrine injectors were available.
University of New Orleans senior Mei Ellis faced a situation similar to Karno’s when a doctor urged her to purchase an EpiPen as a worst-case-scenario injection tool. “My doctor strongly urged me to get the name brand EpiPen as opposed to a more reasonably priced generic,” said Ellis. “Looking back, I’m now pretty skeptical of my doctor’s insistence.”