Wed | Aug 16, 2017

EpiPen manufacturer under investigation

Published:Wednesday | September 7, 2016 | 9:00 AM
In this July 8, 2016, file photo, a pharmacist holds a package of EpiPens epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product, in Sacramento, California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The New York attorney general's office is investigating whether Mylan Pharmaceuticals unfairly limited competition for its emergency allergy treatment, EpiPen, which has been criticised for steep price increases.

A preliminary review showed that the company "may have inserted potentially anticompetitive terms" into sales contracts with many school systems, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday. Subpoenas for company information were issued.

"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."

EpiPens are used in emergencies to treat severe allergic reactions to insect bites and foods like nuts that can lead to anaphylactic shock. They are auto-injectors, or spring-loaded syringes that provide a single dose of the drug epinephrine, and can be administered by patients themselves or untrained people.

A GENERIC VERSION

The price has grown to US$608 for a two-pack, up more than 500 per cent since 2007. The drugmaker has announced that it will launch a generic version that will cost US$300 in the next several weeks.

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan N.V. said on Tuesday that more than 700,000 free EpiPens have been distributed to over 65,000 schools, and it has dropped a previous purchase restriction for schools that wanted more at discounts.

"The programme continues to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations," Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin said. "There are no purchase requirements for participation in the programme, nor have there ever been to receive free EpiPen auto-injectors."

Meanwhile, a New York legislator introduced a bill to authorise pharmacists to dispense little-known and cheaper generic epinephrine auto-injectors under a brand-specific prescription without having to get a new prescription from the doctor.

"Mylan has spent billions of dollars making EpiPen a household name synonymous with epinephrine, but there are lesserknown products such as generic Adrenaclick which can be purchased for approximately US$140 for a two-pack," said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon, a Long Island Republican. He noted that the essential difference is that the Adrenaclicks injector, by Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Amedra Pharmaceuticals, has two caps instead of one.

- AP