Health & Medicine

Doris Matsui calls for lower EpiPen prices

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Rep. Doris Matsui issued a letter Friday demanding that pharmaceutical company Mylan lower the price of the EpiPen, a device that helps millions of people stem severe allergy attacks.

Over the past month, public outrage has grown over the rising cost of the injector device, which dispenses a life-saving drug called epinephrine. That cost has jumped by about 400 percent in the last decade; it now costs about $600 out of pocket for a set of two.

Critics say Mylan has been using its market dominance to slowly increase the price. The company has said it will take steps to subsidize the cost for families who cannot afford it.

“The rising cost of prescription drugs is impacting families across America every day, and I am especially concerned with the practices that led to the skyrocketing price of the EpiPen,” Matsui, a Sacramento Democrat, writes in her letter to the company’s CEO, Heather Bresch.

Matsui mentions in the letter that her grandson has a peanut allergy.

“I carry an EpiPen wherever I go,” she writes.

She also expresses concern about how the price hike will affect local schools. A California law requires all schools to stock EpiPens.

“School nurses in my district are concerned that fewer families can afford the EpiPen, resulting in fewer students bringing their own personal EpiPen to school,” Matsui writes. “The nurses believe this could put a serious strain on the schools’ limited supply and ability to handle student emergencies.”

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola