Senate Calls for EpiPen Maker to Give Briefing on Price Hike

The Senate Aging Committee says the price increase was "drastic."

ByABC News
August 24, 2016, 3:18 PM

— -- Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are calling for Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, to brief members of Congress about the drastic price increase of the medication since 2007.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill sent a letter to Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, asking her to explain why the price of an EpiPen has spiked 400 percent since 2007.

“We are concerned that these drastic price increases could have a serious effect on the health and well-being of every day Americans," the senators wrote in a letter addressed to Bresch. "As leaders of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, we are particularly concerned that seniors have access to EpiPen® because, according to Mylan’s website, older Americans ‘may be at an increased risk of having a more severe anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to biting and stinging insects.’”

The senators told Bresch to come to Capitol Hill "at a mutually convenient time no later than two weeks from today.”

The company has come under fire in recent days over the cost of the popular EpiPen, the most common epinephrine injector on the market. Other members of Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Richard Blumentahl of Connecticut, have written to Mylan about their concerns.

Today, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement calling the price hike "outrageous."

"I believe that our pharmaceutical and biotech industries can be an incredible source of American innovation, giving us revolutionary treatments for debilitating diseases," she said in a statement. "But it's wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them."

A Mylan spokeswoman told ABC News the company plans on meeting with members of Congress.

"We have reached out to every member of Congress who has sent us a letter, including Sen. Blumenthal, and we look forward to meeting with them and responding to their questions as soon as possible," the spokeswoman told ABC News today.

In 2007, when Mylan Pharmaceuticals took over producing the drug from Merck, the cash price of the pens was about $50, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Today, the cost of the drug is approximately $600 according to Good RX, which posts drug prices at pharmacies across the country.

The American Medical Association has also released a statement imploring Mylan to reduce the price of the drug.

"Although the product is unchanged since 2009, the cost has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent during that period. The AMA has long urged the pharmaceutical industry to exercise reasonable restraint in drug pricing, and, with lives on the line, we urge the manufacturer to do all it can to rein in these exorbitant costs," AMA officials said in a statement today. "The high cost of these devices may either keep them out of reach of people in need or force some families to choose between EpiPens and other essentials."

Mylan said it has provided 700,000 free EpiPens to schools and has given coupons to families who have trouble paying for the medication. However, officials said in a statement that they realize more needs to be done to help patients with high-deductible plans.

"With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise," company officials said in a statement. "This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve."

ABC News Zunaira Zaki, Benjamin Segel and Ali Weinberg contributed to this article.