Biotech and Pharma

Mylan expands EpiPen cost-cutting programs after charges of price gouging

Everyone who needs an EpiPen will have one: Mylan CEO

Mylan on Thursday announced plans to boost access to its EpiPen Auto-Injector by expanding already existing programs for patients who are facing higher out-of-pocket costs.

The price of the EpiPen, a life-saving medication and delivery system for people with severe allergies, has increased more than 400 percent in the past decade.

Shares of Mylan rose nearly 4 percent in premarket trading Thursday following the announcement. (Get the latest quote here.) With the company under pressure from members of Congress and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the stock lost 5.4 percent of its value on Wednesday.

The company is reducing the cost of EpiPens through the use of a savings card that will cover up to $300 for the EpiPen 2-Pak.

Patients who were previously paying the full price for the EpiPen will have their out-of-pocket cost cut by 50 percent. Mylan also is doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program, which will eliminate out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and under-insured patients and families, as well.

In addition to expanding cost-cutting programs, Mylan is taking the following actions:

  • doubling eligibility for its patient assistance program to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for their EpiPen Auto-Injector.
  • continue to offer the EpiPen4Schools program. The program, launched in August 2012, has provided more than 700,000 free epinephrine auto-injectors and educational resources to more than 65,000 schools nationwide to help them be prepared for anaphylaxis events among students.
  • opening a pathway so that patients can order EpiPen Auto-Injector directly from the company, thereby reducing the cost.

Source: Mylan

On Wednesday, Clinton called on the pharmaceutical company to voluntarily drop the price.

"That's outrageous — and it's just the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers," Clinton said in a statement. "It's wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them."

This chart shows why Clinton and several U.S. senators are fuming over the ever-rising price the EpiPen, the auto-injection device made by Mylan that many people with allergies tote around to potentially save their lives in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

The EpiPen sold for $100 in 2008. In the eight years since, the price has more than quintupled. About 43 million people are at risk from anaphylaxis, or the severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that EpiPen's injection of epinephrine is designed to counteract.

"This outrageous increase in the price of EpiPens is occurring at the same time that Mylan ... is exploiting a monopoly market advantage that has fallen into its lap," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said last weekend.

Mylan was being opportunistic: Frost & Sullivan

Klobuchar, whose own daughter uses an EpiPen, noted that Mylan has seen one competitor, Sanofi's Auvi-Q, exit the market last year due to a recall, and Teva's generic version failed to receive regulatory approval.

The senator has called for the Federal Trade Commission to probe the price hikes. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has written Mylan asking how EpiPen's prices were determined.

Drug manufacturers defend rising prices, citing the high cost of years of research and development that goes into making blockbuster drugs. In an effort to provide more transparency on the cost of the drug, Mylan provided this supply chain chart.

CNBC's Dan Mangan and Reuters contributed to this report.