EpiPen ‘price gouging’ indefensible? ConsumersUnion pushes petition

epipenWant to inject yourself into the debate on drug prices? A national consumer advocacy group is reaching out with a petition it plans to drop next week at the headquarters of the company that raised prices about 450 percent on EpiPens.

The petition aims at drug maker Mylan. The company has jacked up prices on injectable drugs that can save a kid’s life in an allergy attack from around $100 for a pack of two to more than $600, while executive pay shot up by millions, advocacy group ConsumersUnion says.

New York’s Attorney General said Tuesday his office has begun an investigation into whether Mylan may have inserted “potentially anticompetitive terms” into its EpiPen sales contracts with local school systems.

“An EpiPen can save a child’s life during a sudden allergic reaction,” an email from ConsumersUnion, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, said Tuesday. “But the recent absurd price hike by Mylan is putting this lifesaving drug out of financial reach for many families. Sign our petition to tell Mylan to stop putting people in danger and lower the cost of the EpiPen.”

The group says people can sign up at consumersunion.org.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch commented on the company’s website, “We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it.”

Among other moves, the company has announced plans for a generic alternative that costs about $300 and enhanced payment assistance for buyers.

Controversial former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli,  scrutinized for big drug price hikes in his own tenure, is a Mylan defender: “I think important medicines should be expensive because they’re valuable.”

A pharmaceutical group is launching an advertising campaign to defend drugmakers, Bloomberg reported.

“We’re under pressure and scrutiny like never before,” said Jim Greenwood, chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. The “Innovation Saves” campaign emphasizes drugs can save lives and costs to the health-care system.

 

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