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U.S.’s Pentagon Spends Millions by EpiPen Price Hike: Reuters

U.S.’s Pentagon Spends Millions by EpiPen Price Hike: Reuters
U.S. government data provided to Reuters shows that as the U.S. Department of Defense covered more prescriptions for the lifesaving allergy shot at near retail prices, Mylan NV's price hikes on EpiPens have added millions to the agency’s spending since 2008.
Reuters reports that according to the previously unreported data, an increase driven both by volume and by price hikes that had a bigger bite on prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, Pentagon spending rose to $57 million over the past year from $9 million in 2008.
Dispensed at military treatment facilities and by mail order, the Pentagon gets a government discount on EpiPens. 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 at the retail pharmacies where nearly half of its spending was done.
However that may change. Through the use of rebates, the military discount to EpiPens filled at retail pharmacies could be extended and discussions for the same are underway, both the Pentagon and Mylan reportedly told Reuters.
Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin declined to comment on the specific Department of Defense spending. Talks were underway to address "any questions or concerns from the agency", she said. She declined to say if any repayment was on the table.
Between 2009 through 2016 the difference between what the agency paid for EpiPens at retail pharmacies and what it would have paid at military clinics was calculated to be of about $54 million, reported Reuters.
For raising the U.S. list price on a pack of two injectors nearly six-fold to $600 since 2008, Mylan Chief Executive Officer Heather Bresch has drawn public scrutiny.
With the increased diagnosis and awareness of food allergies, affordability has become a bigger issue. Several EpiPens are often purchased by families to carry with them, keep at school and with caregivers and this is true especially for families who rely on EpiPens to safeguard their children against possibly fatal allergic reactions.
Mylan plans to market a half-price version and is providing more families with coupons to pay for EpiPens, in response to the criticism. Since EpiPens were classified as a generic treatment, a category that allows manufacturers to give smaller rebates to government agencies, and therefore to settle questions over whether the Medicaid program for the poor overpaid the drugmaker also agreed to pay $465 million.
Medical providers have bristled over the price hikes even though they don't take issue with the increased use of EpiPens.
"The rate of increases in their cost is not justifiable," said Dr. J. Mario Molina, chief executive of Molina Healthcare, which runs Medicaid plans in California and 11 other states.
Highly complex pharmaceutical pricing and opaque negotiations have obscured the impact of Mylan's price hikes on government health programs, such as Medicaid.
Saying full information on rebates is confidential under U.S. law, partial details on their spending have been released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as several large state Medicaid programs. It is impossible to discern what price an agency is paying for EpiPen without such details.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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