Mylan, a company that came under fire last year for drastically raising their prices of the EpiPen, a lifesaving device used by many across the country, is now back in the news. Despite introducing a generic version of their allergy medication in response to the backlash they received, lawsuits against the company have begun to spring up in the federal court system from Kansas and Cincinnati to California.
One such lawsuit was filed by an attorney in Cincinnati, Carl Lewis, back on September 6, 2016. According to the lawsuit, Mylan “violated the state’s consumer protection law” and claims Mylan “has a legal duty and obligation to set a fair, affordable, and reasonable price and not hold consumers hostage by forcing them to pay exorbitant prices for its medically necessary product.”
Since filing, an estimated 100 people have signed on to join the case. Even today, more and more people are seeking to join, and all Lewis is waiting on to proceed is for a “judge to formally certify it as a class-action case.”
Why are so many people angry towards Mylan, though? Well, let’s recap. Since 2009, the company has raised the cost for the EpiPen injectors by 500%. Before the price hike, the lifesaving device that helps quell sometimes fatal allergic reactions to things like bee stings and peanut allergies, was affordably priced at $50. Now, people across the nation are having to shell out up to $600 for the injector.
We’re not talking about some device that few people use, not at all. Just last year, Mylan’s EpiPen was the “number one dispensed epinephrine auto-injector,” and accounted for an estimated $1 billion in sales during 2015. In fact, the reason why so many people are angry at Mylan is because so many people depend on the EpiPen’s lifesaving abilities, and feel that Mylan cares more about profits rather than saving lives.
The lawsuit filed by Lewis actually describes the plight of many of the angry people Mylan is having to contend with, including Linda Bates, a resident of Cincinnati. She’s one of the very people who is now expected to cough up $600 to ensure her teenage son has an EpiPen on him at all times. Why? Because her son has a peanut allergy. Her son depends on the EpiPen because if he ever experiences an allergic reaction to peanuts, the epinephrine in the injector will stop the reaction.
Unfortunately, an injector is only good for about a year, forcing parents like Linda into continuously purchasing the injectors year after year. To make matters worse, the devices are only sold with two injectors per pack. That’s up to $600 for only two injectors! In fact, the United States is the only country in the world where customers are required to purchase a two-pack of the injectors. In places like Canada, where EpiPen’s sell for about $100, customers can purchase single injectors, and the more affordable price ensures that families who might need more than two per year can actually afford it.
It’s no wonder people are outraged and it’s no surprise that many are alleging that Mylan has a monopoly on the market. In fact, Lewis’ lawsuit accuses Mylan of being motivated by profits and greed, “not medicine or the welfare of its customers.” With so many people who depend on the EpiPen in case of accidents, it’s absurd that a company would raise their prices so high, making the injector virtually unaffordable for many. Hopefully, lawsuits like the one filed by Lewis will bring about some change in the future.