EpiPens have increased from $57 per pen in 2007 to about $500 per pen today. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday that his office has launched an antitrust investigation into Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes the EpiPen.
NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday that his office has launched an antitrust investigation of Mylan Pharmaceuticals' EpiPen contracts with school districts.
Schneiderman's office said during a preliminary review that the company may have placed "potentially anti-competitive terms into its EpiPen sales contracts with numerous local school systems," according to a release.
"No child's life should be put at risk because a parent, school, or health care provider cannot afford a simple, life-saving device because of a drug-maker's anti-competitive practices," Schneiderman said in the release.
A price increase from $57 per pen in 2007 to about $500 per pen today has caused nationwide outrage, with four U.S. senators grilling Mylan at a hearing last month.
The pens are used in an emergencies for food allergies and there are no generic equivalents.
"If Mylan engaged in anti-competitive business practices, or violated antitrust laws with the intent and effect of limiting lower cost competition, we will hold them accountable," Schneiderman said. "Allergy sufferers have enough concerns to worry about — the availability of life-saving medical treatment should not be one of them. I will bring the full resources of my office to this critical investigation."
The announcement came on the same day U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan violated federal antitrust laws. These two senators, as well as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., have questioned the increases.
"Some of these schools were required to sign a contract agreeing not to purchase any products from Mylan's competitors for a period of 12 months — conduct that can violate the antitrust laws when taken by a monopolist," Blumental said in a statement.
Last week, Minnesota's attorney general, Lori Swanson, asked Mylan to justify the huge increase in the price of the pens.
On Friday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released a plan she said will prohibit pharmaceutical companies from arbitrarily hiking the price for potentially life-saving medications.
A Mylan spokeswoman defended the practice of giving 700,000 free EpiPens to 65,000 schools, pointing out there are no purchase restrictions.
"The program continues to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations. There are no purchase requirements for participation in the program, nor have there ever been to receive free EpiPen Auto-Injectors," she said. "Previously, schools who wished to purchase EpiPen Auto-Injectors beyond those they were eligible to receive free under the program could elect to do so at a certain discount level with a limited purchase restriction, but such restriction no longer remains."
The company recently announced new programs to expand "already existing programs in recognition of those patients who are facing the burden of higher out-of-pocket costs."
The company reduced the patient cost of pens through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 for a two-pack. 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.