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Ortiz: Put price controls on Mylan’s EpiPen

Some kids with allergies can’t afford life-saving device

September 8, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In this July 2016 file photo, a pharmacist holds a package of EpiPen epinephrine auto-injectors. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (Sunset Park, Red Hook) said the federal government should step in and regulate the process for pricing life-saving drugs like the EpiPen, an epinephrine auto-injector used by severe allergy sufferers.

EpiPen’s manufacture, Mylan, has jacked the price of the device up to a whopping $600 for a box of two, up from about $100 for two several years ago.

After a major outcry, the company agreed to put out a generic version of the pens for half the price, but consumers and officials are not mollified. Mylan also has a patient assistance program and announced a $300 savings card last week in an attempt to dampen outrage.

“This new price hike is a huge problem for families with kids with life threatening allergies,” Ortiz said in a release on Thursday. “Parents should not have to choose between buying their child’s school supplies or the lifesaving EpiPen their children are now permitted to carry with them to school.”

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Ortiz sponsored an EpiPen bill, signed into law in 2014, which allows students to carry the prescribed devices with them to school and use them in an emergency.

“I fought for many years for passage of legislation to allow kids to carry their own EpiPen to school,” he said. “Mylan’s decision to keep increasing the price undermines the law’s intent and may make it impossible for concerned parents to help their children have access to their prescribed medication in an emergency.”

For severe allergy sufferers, having an EpiPen on hand could mean survival. These sufferers often have several pens at hand in various locations.

“The federal government must encourage competitive drug pricing and regulate the process for pricing similar drugs. Since epinephrine is not patented there is no reason for a monopoly on its sale in the U.S.,” Ortiz said.

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