[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement today after Mylan, the manufacturer of the EpiPen Auto-Injector, announced plans to expand the company’s “savings card” program, rather than reduce prices for its life-saving drug.
“This step seems like a PR fix more than a real remedy, masking an exorbitant and callous price hike. This baby step should be followed by actual robust action,” Blumenthal said.
“The only fair and effective relief is a substantial price reduction for everyone who needs access to this life-saving drug, not just a special break for people who are in particular health plans and have the extra hours in their work day to navigate a bureaucratic labyrinth of discounts. I will continue to push for a federal investigation and Congressional action.”
Blumenthal was one of the first Senators to respond to Mylan’s excessive prices increases for a drug to treat extreme, life-threatening allergic reactions. He has called for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and hearings by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, on which he sits.
On Monday, he demanded that Mylan lower the price of the EpiPens to an affordable, accessible level. The full text of Blumenthal’s letter is available here. Yesterday, he joined Connecticut mothers, nurses and doctors will call on the manufacturer of EpiPen to end the unconscionable price gouging that is threatening to put the life-saving product out of reach for families, schools and first responders.
Yesterday, Blumenthal also joined U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN, and Ron Johnson (D-WI) in asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to answer questions about its approval process and other steps for alternatives to the EpiPen.
“We are also concerned that the substantial price increase from Mylan could limit access to a much-needed medication,” the Senators wrote to FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “Given the importance of this topic, it is imperative to understand the FDA’s role with respect to EpiPens and its approval of generic equivalents that could help to increase competition and lower prices if introduced.”
The Senators sought an explanation of what factors could be behind the lack of competition for the EpiPen. They asked whether the FDA is taking steps to ensure an adequate supply of self-injectable epinephrine, since the number of people with peanut allergies has tripled in the last 20 years. The letter asked whether the FDA has taken steps to ensure an efficient, safe process for alternatives to the EpiPen, without being hampered by backlogs, and whether certain situations such as drug shortages warrant changes to the typical FDA approval timeline. It also asked whether the agency has considered whether the EpiPen could become an over-the-counter medication and for a description of that process. Finally, the Senators asked how many alternatives to the EpiPen are under review at the FDA and for a description of where each alternative stands in the process.
The Senators’ letter is available here.