EpiPen price hikes add millions to Pentagon costs

EpiPen auto-injection epinephrine pens manufactured by Mylan NV pharmaceutical company for use by severe allergy sufferers are seen in Washington, U.S. August 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File PhotoEpiPen auto-injection epinephrine pens manufactured by Mylan NV pharmaceutical company for use by severe allergy sufferers are seen in Washington, U.S. August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

Mylan NV’s price hikes on EpiPens have added millions to U.S. Department of Defense spending since 2008 as the agency covered more prescriptions for the lifesaving allergy shot at near retail prices.

Pentagon spending rose to $57 million over the past year from $9 million in 2008 – an increase driven both by volume and by price hikes that had a bigger bite on prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, according to the previously unreported data.

The Pentagon gets a government discount on EpiPens dispensed at military treatment facilities and by mail order. But nearly half of its spending was at retail pharmacies where it most recently paid an average of $509 for EpiPen and $528 for EpiPen Jr two-packs – three times higher than its discounted rate, the data shows.

That may change. Both the Pentagon and Mylan have stated that discussions are underway that could extend the military discount to EpiPens filled at retail pharmacies through the use of rebates.

Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin declined to comment on the specific Department of Defense spending. She said in an emailed statement that talks were underway to address “any questions or concerns from the agency.” She declined to say if any repayment was on the table.

Earlier this year in response to the criticism, Mylan is providing more families with coupons to pay for EpiPens and plans to market a half-price version. The drugmaker also agreed to pay $465 million to settle questions over whether the Medicaid program for the poor overpaid because EpiPens were classified as a generic treatment, a category that allows manufacturers to give smaller rebates to government agencies.

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