EpiPen alternative law signed by Gov. Kasich

Ohioans will have better access to cheaper alternatives of the EpiPen under a new law signed by Gov. John Kasich.

An EpiPen can be used to inject about $1 worth of life-saving allergy medication, but the retail price of the medication dispensers has been climbing and can be more than $600 for a two-pack.

The Epinephrine Accessibility Act allows Ohio pharmacists to substitute EpiPen prescriptions — with patients’ consent — to lower-cost alternative epinephrine auto-injectors.

“It slashes the regulatory red tape that resulted in a broken distribution model that insulated entrenched manufacturers from more traditional market forces, and it gives patients and pharmacists better control of their health care,” Antonio Ciaccia, who lobbies for Ohio Pharmacists Association, said in a press release.

MORE: EpiPen maker hit with lawsuit alleging price inflation

The changes will go into effect 91 days after it is filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

EpiPens, which are manufactured by Mylan, dominate the market and the company increased the price by 400 percent from 2011 to 2016, according to GoodRx, a prescription drug price comparison tool. The site listed two alternative auto-injectors that could be available at a lower cost as well as another that was just FDA approved but has yet to hit the market. EpiPen also sells a generic.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Derek Merrin, R-Monclova Twp., and several pharmacy groups have testified before the health committee in support of the measure, saying it will lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

Two advocacy groups spoke against the bill, both of which recieved some funding from Mylan. The groups said since each device works differently, patients might not know how to properly use a device swapped out by a pharmacist.

Read fine print: Prescription drug discounts may contain catch

Pharmacists said they have the training to teach patients about different medications and devices.

Another part of bill is intended to save consumers money by not requiring them return to their doctor’s office every year to renew an existing prescription. It also would allow public places like restaurants and colleges to more easily stock the drugs for emergencies.

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