Three EpiPen users sued Mylan Monday over the injection's rising drug prices, claiming the company engaged in a racketeering sales scheme that inflated EpiPen's price.
The proposed class-action lawsuit alleges Mylan's agreements with pharmacy benefit managers amount to illegal kickbacks. The plaintiffs claim that Mylan paid PBMs – including Express Scripts, CVS Health and OptumRx – to promote EpiPen over competitor allergy injectors, and those payments artificially increased prices. Although the lawsuit mentions PBMs, it doesn't name them as defendants.
A Mylan spokeswoman did not return requests for comment.
The suit, filed in federal court in Seattle, claims Mylan's actions violate federal racketeering law and state consumer protection laws for allegedly raising EpiPen's list price to provide kickbacks to PBMs. PBMs get paid in part based on the “spread” – the difference between the high list price set by drug companies and the actual price paid by PBMs, the complaint claimed.
“Mylan participated in and benefited both from the high list price scheme and from paying high rebates or kickbacks to PBMs to ensure EpiPen's market dominance,” the complaint said.
EpiPen had a 95% market share in auto-injectors from 2008 to 2011, according to the complaint.
“Mylan has tried to pass the buck and excuse itself from any responsibility, attempting to wash its hands of the dubious scheme that has plagued allergy sufferers with unbearably high prices,” said attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, counsel for the plaintiffs, in a press release.
The lawsuit is the latest development in the fallout from the soaring price of EpiPens, epinephrine auto-injectors which are used in emergencies to stop severe allergy attacks. The drug now tops $600, an increase of more than 500% since 2007, when Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan bought rights to the drug. Mylan faces several other proposed class-action lawsuits over EpiPens throughout the country.
In January, insurer Cigna Corp. announced that it would not cover Mylan's EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector in 2017. Instead, the insurer covers Mylan's $300 generic version of the EpiPen.
Since the EpiPen fallout, some PBMs like CVS Health also carry the generic EpiPen alternative Andrenaclick, which is made by Impax Laboratories.
Some companies tried to introduce auto-injectors to compete with EpiPen as prices surged but they couldn't compete because they allegedly did not pay the rebates Mylan paid the PBMs, according to the suit.