Mylan raises prices of allergy medication EpiPens 500%

23 Aug 2016


US Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has asked Mylan, the maker of anti-allergy EpiPens, to explain sharp increases in the device's price.

Some US retailers are now charging around $500 for a set of EpiPens, up from $100 some years back. Mylan's marker-sized injectors, which are filled with epinephrine help stop an anaphylactic reaction.

According to The Hill,  Grassley wrote in a letter to Mylan, ''The substantial price increase has caused significant concern among patients. I have heard from one father in Iowa who recently purchased a refill of his daughter's EpiPen prescription. He reported that to fill the prescription, he had to pay over $500 for one EpiPen.''

According to doctors, the EpiPens, which earlier cost around $100, were now retailing at several hundred dollars. Patients paid differing amounts depending on their out-of-pocket insurance requirements.

According to state health officials, Maryland's Medicaid programme covered the drug.

''People use them all the time,'' said Dr Jonathan Matz from LifeBridge Health Allergy and Immunology,"  The Baltimore Sun reported in its online edition. ''It's not something trivial. Most need at least one during childhood.''

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 6 per cent of children have had a food allergy that could be life threatening.

EpiPens are widely used in allergies to various foods, such as peanuts or shellfish, which could trigger anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that usually  occurs quickly and could result in death.

Symptoms include an itchy rash, swelling of the tongue or throat, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness and low blood pressure.

Allergies to insect bites or stings, or to certain medications or latex could also trigger anaphylaxis.

Prices for many drugs had soared in recent years after manufacturers stopped making some medications.

One of the most dangerous of anaphylaxis symptoms is swelling in the throat that could block the airway.

According to the prescription drug price comparison tool, GoodRX, the out-of-pocket cash price for the drug currently ranged from $728 to $840, depending on the pharmacy.

As per media reports the price increase had created triggered a crisis of sorts, particularly as children with allergies start preparing to return to school for the Fall 2016 session.

It was also causing people to question why the price of the drug had surged so high.

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