Sen. Blumenthal fights EpiPen price gouging - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Sen. Blumenthal fights EpiPen price gouging

Posted: Updated:
EpiPen outrage continues locally. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is looking to take the fight to Washington.(WFSB) EpiPen outrage continues locally. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is looking to take the fight to Washington.(WFSB)

One of Connecticut's U.S. senators called for fairer prices on EpiPens on Wednesday afternoon after the price has skyrocketed by nearly 500 percent for the medication.  

There is growing anger over the rising cost of the EpiPen, a life-saving medication that thousands of parents and schools depend on to treat asthma.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined the president of Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford to demand the maker of the EpiPen end what they called "price gouging."

The drug itself hasn't changed so doctors, parents and lawmakers don't know why the EpiPen has gotten more expensive other than greed.

"I felt sick to my stomach when they said $734.94 for a twin pack," Wallingford resident Jill Negro, who's children need an EpiPen, said. 

Negro said her two sons have allergies to eggs and nuts, so for years they have been using EpiPens. 

"We have a $5,000 deductible, so we need to pay out of pocket and up front," Negro said. 

Officials said 28 million people are at risk to severe allergic reactions and only 10 percent of them carry the EpiPen, which is made by Mylan. Many are children.

Last year in our state, a two-pack cost $493 dollars and this year it's $635. Mylan, the only maker of the EpiPen, has been raising the price since it acquired the product in 2007, according to Blumenthal. A single dose now costs about $300 for just $1 or $2 worth of epinephrine. 

With the school year about to start, parents told Eyewitness News they are seeing the new price tag for this life-saving drug. Middlefield mom Carolyn Janis, who's child need an EpiPen, said she doesn't know if it fits in her budget anymore.

"To date, I have not filled his Epi-Pens. We can't afford it right now," Janis said. 

Blumenthal said he plans to call on the Federal Trade Commission, the judiciary committee and commerce committee to look into illegal trade practices. Other members of Congress are also demanding an explanation for the price surge.

"What Congress can do is impose stronger protections against this kind of price gouging," Blumenthal said. 

Blumenthal said he wants to see if any anti-trust laws were violated. But,  Blumenthal didn't have much to say about one of the highest paid CEOs in the drug industry, Heather Bresch. She happens to be the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

"The issue here is not the identity of the CEO. It's the predatory and problematic pricing," Blumenthal said. 

During this increase, Mylan CEO's compensation has gone from about $2.5 million to almost $19 million. Meanwhile, the company's stock fell Tuesday.

The mothers told Eyewitness News they are disgusted by these hikes and hope their children won't pay the ultimate price. 

"I am up at night, worrying about what we'll do this year and the year after that and the year after that," Negro said. 

Now, while it may seem that Mylan has essentially cornered the market for this drug, there is a generic one. But that one isn't as popular because after injection, the needle is still exposed. So until another competitor emerges, parents said they'll have to use that generic one, pay hundreds for these pens, go without, or use expired ones. 

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.