EpiPen maker to offer discounts after price hike firestorm

EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product (Photo: Mark Zaleski, AP)
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Drug maker Mylan (MYL) said Thursday that it would offer discounts on a life-saving allergy shot after generating a firestorm when it implemented sharp price increases for the treatment.

The company said that it would offer coupons covering up to $300 "for patients in health plans who face higher out-of-pocket costs" for the EpiPen Auto-Injector treatment.

Mylan also said it would double the income level at which families are eligible for assistance in purchasing the medication to 400% of the federal poverty level. The company said a family of four with income up to $97,200 won't pay out of pocket.

The average wholesale price of EpiPen has increased by 500% since 2009, while the price that insurers and employers pay to Mylan is up 150% over that period. There's no generic equivalent and no brand-name competitor.

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Politicians and patient advocates have criticized Mylan for the price increases, describing the company's actions as emblematic of the drug industry's unfair stranglehold on the market for life-saving treatments.

"We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in a statement. "Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them."

Bresch added: "However, price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today's actions. All involved must also take steps to help meaningfully address the U.S. healthcare crisis, and we are committed to do our part to drive change in collaboration with policymakers, payers, patients and healthcare professionals."