EpiPen Pricing Flap Prompts New Drug Transparency Bill

Bipartisan plan would require drug manufacturers to disclose costs

Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky is the House sponsor of the drug pricing disclosure bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky is the House sponsor of the drug pricing disclosure bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:33am

The controversy over the cost of EpiPens is prompting a bipartisan effort to force drugmakers to detail their costs before they increase prices by more than 10 percent.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democrats, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said in a statement Thursday that the effort will cut through opaque pricing practices and provide information about treatments that are sometimes developed with taxpayer dollars.

“Prescription drug corporations should not be allowed to hide behind a curtain, refusing to disclose information on drug prices, and price gouging with impunity,” Schakowsky said.

[Roll Call: EpiPen Crisis Hitting Senators Close to Home]

Over the past five years, pharmaceutical companies have taken heat for raising the prices of some top-selling drugs. EpiPen manufacturer Mylan raised the cost of a package of two EpiPen auto-injectors from around $100 to over $600. 

“The American people should not be forced to choose between filling a prescription or making their monthly mortgage payment,” McCain said. 

The bill would make manufacturers of certain drugs submit a report detailing manufacturing, research and development costs, net profits and how much they spend on advertising on a particular medicine 30 days before any price increase in excess of 10 percent. The actual prices would not be regulated by the bill. 

[Democrats: EpiPen Cost Curbing Is PR Move, Not a Fix]

John Rother, the executive director for the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, called the effort a first step in repairing the “broken prescription drug market.”

“For the millions of Americans who depend on life-saving medicines, open and honest prescription drug pricing is critical,” he said.

Mylan in August said it would take steps to reduce the price of the EpiPen  injector for some customers, by covering up to $300 of the cost through the use of a savings card and expanding eligibility for a program that reduces costs for uninsured or underinsured patients. But many lawmakers said the company didn’t go far enough.