Even those who don’t rely on injectable epinephrine to prevent anaphylactic shock may remember the public outcry when Mylan, the manufacturer of Epi-Pen, suddenly raised the price of this life-saving medication from around $50 per dose for many patients to $600 or more per two-pack. Although the immediate and outraged consumer backlash led Mylan to quickly offer a somewhat cheaper “generic” version of this medication (albeit a still-more expensive version at around $300 per pack), the drug manufacturer is now facing a federal class action lawsuit for a number of its pricing and marketing practices. Read on to learn more about this lawsuit and how it could affect the future of Epi-Pen pricing and availability.
Why is Mylan being sued?
In addition to offering a “generic” version of its Epi-Pen for sale at a relative bargain of $300, Mylan is alleged to have classified the non-generic Epi-Pen as a generic drug for Medicaid patients, allowing it to pay much lower reimbursement rates to doctors and clinics even while patients benefited from the Mylan name. If these allegations are found to be true, it would mean that Mylan committed Medicaid fraud and raked in extra profits at taxpayers’ expense.
Mylan is also alleged to have deliberately packaged its Epi-Pens in a two-pack for U.S. sale only, inflating its profits by making it impossible for consumers to purchase only a single Epi-Pen. Meanwhile, those who purchase this medication outside the U.S. (including Canadian patients) are able to purchase single packages, minimizing both waste and out-of-pocket costs.
What potential outcomes could result from this case?
Currently, more than 100 plaintiffs have joined the class against Mylan, alleging financial and sometimes even physical harm from the company’s alleged mercenary moves. However, this class hasn’t yet been certified, so the case is far from over.
If this lawsuit is eventually successful, it’s likely Mylan will be assessed a steep monetary judgment that will be divided among the plaintiffs for their physical, emotional, and financial suffering. The court may also order injunctive relief — for example, requiring Mylan to lower the cost of its Epi-Pen (or the generic version), sell the Epi-Pen in single packs, or make rebates or coupons available for consumers whose income is below a certain threshold.