Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the American Medical Association on Wednesday separately urged Mylan Pharmaceuticals to reduce the price of EpiPens, escalating calls for the company to address a growing clamor over its price hikes.
“The AMA has long urged the pharmaceutical industry to exercise reasonable restraint in drug pricing, and, with lives on the line, we urge the manufacturer to do all it can to rein in these exorbitant costs,” Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the AMA, said in a statement.
He added: “With many parents required to buy two or more sets of EpiPens just to keep their children safe, the high cost of these devices may either keep them out of reach of people in need or force some families to choose between EpiPens and other essentials.”
The furor over the cost of EpiPens — auto-injectors used to reverse life-threatening allergic reactions — comes as some parents send their kids back to school and some need to purchase additional EpiPens. A pack of two EpiPens now costs more than $600, which is six times the 2004 price, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard Drug Database.
“When an allergic reaction leads to anaphylactic shock, a shot of epinephrine can literally be the difference between life and death,” Clinton said in her statement. “But now, just as parents are about to send kids with severe food and insect allergies back to school, the EpiPen’s manufacturer is hiking its price to an all-time high.”
She added: “That’s outrageous — and it’s just the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.”
Clinton also used her statement to plug her plan to address high drug prices, an issue that both she and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have pledged to take on if they are elected.
The price of EpiPens has gotten the attention of several members of Congress, who have called for investigations into the cost of the drugs. EpiPens contain what Bloomberg estimates to be a dollar’s worth of the generic drug epinephrine, but Mylan’s product dominates the market.
Mylan has said the price increases over time “reflect the multiple, important product features and the value the product provides,” but has not specified what those features are.
Asked about the EpiPen price increases, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday told reporters he was not going to “second-guess” or criticize a specific company’s price increases. But he said price hikes by drug makers generally are hurting their image and making Americans question if they are acting morally.
“Pharmaceutical companies that often try to portray themselves as the inventors of lifesaving medication often do real damage to their reputation by being greedy and jacking up prices in a way that victimizes vulnerable Americans,” Earnest said.