Resolution Condemning EpiPen Maker Approved by CA Legislature
Informational Hearings on Drug Prices Planned & Mylan CEO Invited to Participate
Today, in the final hours of the California State Legislative session, Senate Joint Resolution 29, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), was approved by the State Legislature and will be now sent to Washington, D.C. SJR 29 urges Congress to take action against the company Mylan, which makes the EpiPen.
In the resolution, the Legislature declares that unnecessary and unexplained increases in drug pricing will no longer be tolerated. It urges the United States Food and Drug Administration to reconsider its denial of approval for generic alternatives to the EpiPen. In addition, it asks for Congress to investigate Mylan’s monopoly and for action to be taken to limit the unrestrained ability of drug makers to increase prices based on what the market can bear.
“We need to send a message that as a Legislature we stand behind the countless families and children that are now feeling the burden of paying for EpiPens,” said Senator Hernandez. “This will not go away and we cannot continue to stand idly by as the pharmaceutical industry continues to raise prices on medication that is needed by many throughout California and the nation. I will continue to champion this issue because I believe these price hikes are unconscionable and morally wrong.”
A two-pack of the epinephrine auto-injectors costs more than $600, an increase of more than 500 percent. Just $1 or so of epinephrine is used in the device, but with no effective competing products, Mylan can charge people with life-threatening allergies whatever price they want.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Hernandez will hold a series of informational hearings this fall on rising drug costs, with special focus on Mylan and the increased price of EpiPens. He has invited the Mylan CEO Heather Bresch to come to California and be a part of the discussion.
Senator Hernandez, along with a diverse coalition of supporters, tackled skyrocketing drug prices during the 2015-16 legislative session as the author of Senate Bill 1010, which required drug makers to give prior notice to purchasers before raising prices and health plans to report the proportion of premiums we pay for prescription drugs. Senator Hernandez delayed moving the legislation forward after amendments in the Assembly made the bill’s original goal of transparency difficult to achieve.
The California School Employees Association and Consumers Union, organizations who supported SJR 29, have both called for continued vigilance in tackling out-of-control drug pricing.
“California families, and all Americans, are being bled dry by drug company profiteering-- practices that are often completely legal. Mylan's move with EpiPen is just the latest example. The financial pain that results from these skyrocketing drug prices takes a serious toll on virtually every facet of consumers' lives, from retirement plans to the essentials of everyday living, like buying groceries. We need to sound the alarm, and work together to stop the gouging and bring transparency to drug pricing," said Elizabeth Imholz, Special Projects Director for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports.
“It is unconscionable for drug companies to unjustifiably increase the costs of life saving medication like the Epi-Pen. School districts stock EpiPens and trained classified employees use them in emergencies when the lives of children are at risk. These cost increases are outrageous and will impact children, their families and school district budgets. We support SJR 29,” Ben Valdepena, Association President, California School Employees Association, CSEA.
Senator Hernandez will continue the fight against skyrocketing drug prices.