Why Mylan’s ‘savings card’ won’t make EpiPen cheaper for all patients

By:  Carolyn Johnson

After being blasted for price hikes on its lifesaving EpiPen allergy injections, the drugmaker Mylan announced Thursday that it will expand access to the product — not by lowering the price, but by creating a savings card that will cover up to $300 of its EpiPen 2-Pak.

The list price of the drug is $609 for a two-pack of the injectors, up from less than $100 in 2007, according to data from Truven Health Analytics.

Although the company said that the savings card would halve the cost of the drug to commercially insured patients who pay full price, outside experts said the overall impact will likely be small and that it did not amount to a solution to the broader problem. Such savings cards are a classic public relations move by the pharmaceutical industry, said Harvard Medical School professor Aaron Kesselheim, and it will only be used by a fraction of the people who need the drug. For example, such savings cards are illegal in government health programs such as Medicaid.

"These don’t actually do anything about the price itself, because the high price is still being paid by the insurer, which then ends up being reflected in increasing premiums," Kesselheim said. "This is not a public health solution."

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