Florida company sells EpiPen at cost; no markup after outrage

EpiPen (AP)

(WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area business announced Thursday it will sell EpiPens at cost – with no markup. The Canadian Medstore said its pharmacy partners will sell a twin pack of EpiPens for $180 – rather than the $600+ being charged at traditional stores.

“This isn’t about profit, it’s about doing the right thing and helping our neighbors in the communities we serve,” Medstore Director Bill Hepscher said. “This medication could mean the difference between life and death but many families cannot afford the increased prices. Imagine being that parent, it’s heartbreaking”

“God forbid we lose a child in one of our communities to an anaphylactic episode simply because the family didn’t have the financial ability to purchase the very medication that would save their child’s life. I cannot let that happen. We are blessed to be in the position to help these folks, we have a moral obligation to help and that is what we are going to do,” Hepscher added.

The Canadian Medstore has locations in Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, Zephyrhills, Largo, Altamonte Springs and Tampa. Find the addresses here.

News Channel 8 talked with the business about the safety of its medications, since they are not regulated by the FDA. These medications come from around the world. The company said its products are safe

Earlier Thursday EpiPen owner Mylan said it will bulk up programs that help patients pay for its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment. Mylan has weathered heated criticism about an average cost that has climbed more than 600 percent over the past decade.

But the drugmaker didn’t budge on its price, which has drawn ire both in Congress and from families that have had to shell out increasingly large sums for the potentially life-saving treatment.

That means the insurers and employers that pay the bulk of the EpiPen cost for many patients will continue to do so, contributing to higher health insurance costs.

“That’s just going to come out in the premiums,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. “Everybody suffers, except the Mylan investors.”

The average price of a two-dose EpiPen package climbed to about $608 earlier this year, up from around $94 nine years ago, according to the Elsevier Clinical Solutions’ Gold Standard Drug Database.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC Thursday that lowering the price was not an option.

“Had we reduced the list price, I couldn’t ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen gets one,” she said.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and members of Congress from both parties have quickly ramped up criticism of the company and its pricing.

Pharmaceutical and biotech industries can fuel American innovation, and combat debilitating diseases, Clinton said Wednesday. But she added that “it’s wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them.”

Bresch said Thursday that Mylan gets $274 for a two-dose EpiPen package. The rest of the $608 price goes to entities that stand between the drugmaker and the patient, like insurers, pharmacy benefits managers, wholesalers and drugstores.

“This isn’t an EpiPen issue,” she said. “This isn’t a Mylan issue. This is a health care issue.”

However, it is Mylan that is increasing the price of the drug and the company stuck by those price hikes Thursday.

That stance brought a wave of new money from investors who drove Mylan’s shares up more than 3 percent in early trading, while all major U.S. indexes were in decline.

Mylan did say, however, that it was doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program to people with incomes four times higher than the federal poverty level. It said that means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for the treatment. It also noted that its $300 savings card would cut the bill in half for patients who would otherwise have to pay full price for the EpiPen.

Patients also will be able to order the injected medicine directly from the company, to help lower costs.

These measures could provide significant help for people with no coverage facing the full bill. But they might have more limited value to a patient whose insurer will cover most of the bill anyway and whose future premium could be affected each year.

Customers of Express Scripts Holding Co., the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager, pay about $73.50 out of pocket for an EpiPen prescription, spokesman Brian Henry said. He noted that price has stayed relatively stable the past couple years.

Last year, more than 3.6 million U.S. prescriptions for two-packs of EpiPens were filled, according to data firm IMS Health. That brought in sales of nearly $1.7 billion for Mylan.Learn more about EpiPen here.

Sarah Jessica Parker cuts ties with EpiPen after price hike

Saying she is “disappointed, saddened and deeply concerned” by the price hike of the EpiPen, actress Sarah Jessica Parker has cut ties with the company that makes the emergency allergy treatment.

Parker, whose 13-year-old son James has severe peanut and hazelnut allergies, was part of a short campaign with pharmaceutical giant Mylan N.V., maker of the EpiPen. She was never a spokeswoman.

Parker took to Instagram on Thursday to distance herself from the company and urged it to “take swift action to lower the cost to be more affordable for whom it is a life-saving necessity.”

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