A growing backlash against the skyrocketing cost of EpiPens has led the company behind the lifesaving injectable medication to announce that the drug will become more affordable.
EpiPen manufacturer Mylan didn't cut the price of its drug after a congressman's letter revealed Monday that it had crept above $500. Instead, it's said it will offer patients, who use the hormone for life-threatening allergic reactions, more financial help to obtain it. EpiPen users who have insurance (90 percent of the users) will get $300 coupons to cover the steep copayments. The other 10 percent without insurance will have more help buying the drug directly.
That's great news for patients who need EpiPens but have so far found them unaffordable. But it's also terrible news for the American health care system.
Health economists argue that coupons like the ones Mylan will give out shield customers from the high prices of their medications — and ultimately help pharmaceutical companies squash generic competitors and continue to ensure sky-high drug prices.
"For Mylan, [the coupons] may help get them out of the glare of the spotlight, but they don't address any of the fundamental drivers of the soaring price of prescription drugs," says Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.
The way drug coupons work is complex, and it's a window into the maddening world of American drug prices. It shows how pharmaceutical companies can give consumers steep discounts while at the same time driving up the country's health care spending.
One way to understand it is through the story of how a father gets EpiPens for his 8-year-old son named Owen.