Few names in the pharmaceutical business are more infamous than Mylan. They made headlines in 2016 for aggressively inflating the price of their EpiPen products and gouged consumers of this lifesaving intervention with 400 percent price increases. The EpiPen contains epinephrine, a synthetic form of the hormone adrenaline that counteracts anaphylaxis. It helps to constrict your blood vessels, increases your blood pressure and also reduces the ability of smooth muscles in your lungs to improve breathing.
As reported by Arstechnica.com, Mylan has operated with impunity for years and has a long tradition of strong-arming potential buyers. In 2015, Mylan sued the state of West Virginia in order to make sure their EpiPen product remained on the state’s “preferred” drug list. Drugs on a state’s “preferred” list are paid for by Medicaid. In the case of the EpiPen, the state was paying a grossly inflated price for a product that they had previously purchased for far less.
This is just one of the many legal battles that have raged around the EpiPen and its extortionate pricing structure. Minnesota was also threatened with legal action by Mylan for removing EpiPen from its own Medicaid preferred list. Neither West Virginia nor Minnesota has backed down. Several other states have followed suit and have removed EpiPen from their Medicaid “preferred” lists.
Most of the EpiPen cost increases took place in the last three years, and it was suggested that Mylan may be hiking prices before the introduction of a generic, which was expected out last year. The generic was rejected by the FDA. This left Mylan free to operate in a field bereft of competition. Mylan has tried to downplay the drug’s outrageous cost by saying that most patients have insurance coverage and they offer coupons to help reduce co-payments.
A monopoly is not synonymous with quality. The FDA announced an EpiPen recall on March 31, 2017. This is a troubling turn of events due to the time-contingent nature of this medical intervention. An emergency anti-allergy device that doesn’t work poses an immediate and life threatening danger to consumers.
To lower your own drug costs, consider generic equivalents or purchasing your drugs from a reputable Canadian pharmacy whenever possible. Even more important, however, is to take control of your health — the first and best step to reducing your reliance on drugs now and in the future.