New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is launching an antitrust investigation against Mylan, the maker of the epinephrine auto-injector known as EpiPen. EpiPens are used to combat a life-threatening allergic reaction. They are the main drug-injectors for both children and adults who have severe allergic reactions. Mylan has drawn criticism for raising the price of EpiPens substantially.
The price of EpiPens was raised by more than 75 percent over the past year; a two-pen set now costs $600. The jump in cost has sparked calls for investigation, Newsday reports. After conducting a preliminary review, Schneiderman said his office “revealed that Mylan Pharmaceuticals may have inserted potentially anticompetitive terms into its EpiPen sales contracts with numerous local school systems.”
“If Mylan engaged in anticompetitive business practices, or violated antitrust laws with the intent and effect of limiting lower cost competition, we will hold them accountable,” Schneiderman stated.
Other lawmakers are also asking questions. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Mylan CEO that “The substantial price increase could limit access to a much-needed medication,” Similarly, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) asked the Federal Trade Commission whether Mylan had broken antitrust laws.
Mylan says it “continues to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations.” The company did not comment on the investigation directly.
Meanwhile, a proposed consumer class action lawsuit has been filed over EpiPen prices. The suit states that Mylan has upped the price of EpiPen by 550 percent since 2007. The lead plaintiff is an Ohio woman who has a 15-year-old son with peanut allergies. She has been purchasing the epinephrine injector since he was 5 years old. Since the device is only good for one year, she buys a new one annually. The plaintiff alleges that she paid $50 last year and was recently informed that it will now cost $600.
EpiPens are the go-to medication when people suffer from anaphylaxis, which causes swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing during an allergic reaction. The World Health Organization classified EpiPens as an “essential medication” due to their life-saving nature.
Mylan violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, which prohibits “an unconscionable act or practice in connection with a consumer transaction” the lawsuit alleges.