Pharmaceutical giant Mylan’s first attempt to quell widespread public outcry over the skyrocketing price of the EpiPen has fallen flat with members of Congress.
On Thursday, Mylan announced it will expand a patient assistance program and offer up to $300 in discounts to people whose insurance plans do not fully cover the device — but did not change the price of the EpiPen, which retails at around $600. The price has increased more than 400 percent in recent years.
The move comes after several days of criticism from lawmakers from both parties and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demanding Mylan lower the price or offer an explanation for the increase and, in some cases, calling for government investigations into the matter.
Many of those same politicians said Thursday that Mylan’s response falls short and continued to press for congressional inquiries.
“This step seems like a PR fix more than a real remedy, masking an exorbitant and callous price hike,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who this week called on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Mylan. “The only fair and effective relief is a substantial price reduction for everyone who needs access to this life-saving drug, not just a special break for people who are in particular health plans and have the extra hours in their work day to navigate a bureaucratic labyrinth of discounts. I will continue to push for a federal investigation and Congressional action.”
Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also called Mylan’s response inadequate, saying offering discounts are a tactic drug companies use to distract from exorbitant price increases. Cummings has called on the committee to hold a hearing next month to look into why Mylan raised the price.
“Mylan should not offer after-the-fact discounts only for a select few — it should reverse its massive price increases across the board immediately,” Cummings said.
Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). Manchin issued a statement Thursday acknowledging the concern his Senate colleagues have expressed.
“I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking and frankly I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs,” Manchin said. “Today I heard Mylan’s initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions. I look forward to reviewing their response in detail and working with my colleagues and all interested parties to lower the price of prescription drugs and to continue to improve our health care system.”