EpiPen maker hit with lawsuit alleging price inflation

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, is facing a new lawsuit over the price of its life-saving allergy treatment.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Washington claims Mylan engaged in a scheme with pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs — the middlemen between insurers and drug companies — to inflate the price of its product and dominate the market.

The cost of EpiPens have enraged some consumers. According to the complaint filed by three purchasers, Mylan has increased the list price of the product seventeen times since it acquired the rights in 2007 for a total 574 percent increase from $90.28 to $608.62

RELATED: Groups with Mylan ties fighting Ohio EpiPen affordability bill

“Mylan’s price increases for EpiPen have been so dramatic that some patients have resorted to carrying expired EpiPens, or using syringes to manually inject epinephrine,” the complaint says.

No PBMs are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, but the complaint is critical of their role in inflating the list price of EpiPens. It outlines the system in which pharmaceutical companies like Mylan hike the list price of a drug in order to pay larger kickbacks or rebates to PBMs. In return, the company’s product gets favorable placement on insurers formularies, ensuring that it gets prescribed instead of a competitor.

“Mylan’s list price has become an artificial and phony price established and driven up as part of a kickback scheme from Mylan to the PBMs,” the complaint says.

PBM industry groups have pushed back against drug makers who blame price increases on the rebate system.

"Mylan has spent the past year blaming Washington, the prescription drug supply chain, and competitors for its unusual pricing practices. It's time for them to look in the mirror and take responsibility for their own actions," the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, an organization representing PBMs, said in response to the lawsuit.

IN-DEPTH REPORT: Consumers kept in the dark over drug pricing

The lawsuit brings claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law historically used against organized crime.

This news organization has reached out to Mylan for comment.

Reporter Katie Wedell has written extensively on the relationship between PBMs and drug makers and its effect on out-of-pocket consumer costs.

Read more from the series here:

Who’s really controlling your drug prices? 5 things to know

Dayton man lead plaintiff in drug suit alleging price-gouging

Explore Read fine print: Prescription drug discounts may contain catch

Insulin makers accused of price-fixing scheme

$180,000 price tag for Miami Twp. boy’s prescription

Explore Million-dollar drug keeps local woman alive

How do prescription drug prices get set?

Do you have a tip or story about prescription drug prices?

Contact Katie Wedell at kwedell@coxohio.com, (937) 328-0353, @KatieWedell.

You can also leave anonymous tips for the I-Team by calling (937) 225-2251.

About the Author