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New York State Attorney General Investigating Mylan Pharmaceuticals for Unfair Competition

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  • Posted on: Sep 22 2016

What anticompetitive business actions are considered unfair?

Amidst the recent commotion surrounding the wildly elevated prices of certain products sold by Mylan Pharmaceuticals (“Mylan”), New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether the drug company has unfairly limited competition. Although Mylan has been accused of profiteering before, this time the product involved is EpiPen®, the emergency injector used for extreme emergency allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Allergies requiring EpiPen administration may include severe allergic reactions to insect stings, nuts, shellfish, or certain medications. Because EpiPens are auto-injectors, they can be easily carried and used anywhere and can be administered by patients themselves or by untrained people who happen to be nearby. A single jab to the thigh dispenses lifesaving epinephrine.

Mylan’s Business Practices under Investigation

Right now, the state attorney general’s office is examining data to find out whether Mylan unfairly limited competition as a means of steeply increasing its prices for EpiPen. In a preliminary report, Schneiderman announced that the company “may have inserted potentially anticompetitive terms” into sales contracts with many school systems, thereby engaging in anti-competitive business practices or violating antitrust laws. If this turns out to be the case, Schneiderman says, “We will hold them accountable.” Recently, Mylan was served with subpoenas for company information. Of course, investigation does not mean proof of wrongdoing. If your company is accused of, or investigated for, illegitimate practices, it is essential that you have a strong business attorney with skill and experience in commercial and complex litigation.

Just how steep are the increases in price?

The possible legal charges here are serious since they not only involve potentially illegal business practices, but matters of public health and lifesaving medical treatment. Mylan has increased the cost of the EpiPen product astronomically, apparently just because they can. In 2007, pharmacies paid less than $100 for a two-pen set (patients are advised to carry two in case they require a second dose). By 2009, the price had increased marginally to $103.50 per set. By July 2013, however, the cost was up to $264.50, and by May 2015 it had risen to $461. The alarming increases in price did not stop there. By May of this year, the price of two EpiPens skyrocketed to $608.61! This represents an increase of 500 percent in less than a decade. For individuals whose lives depend on these products (which typically have to be replaced annually), this is a tremendous burden.

Possible Alternatives to the Outrageous Pricing

In response to the uproar surrounding its pricing, the company has announced that will be launching a $300 generic version of the medication within several weeks. Also, Mylan has stated that it has distributed more than 700,000 free EpiPens to 65,000 schools nationwide. While there are other generics, such as Adrenaclick, presently available, EpiPen is the recognizable brand name and patients are extremely reluctant to trust their lives to an unknown product.

While the controversy and investigation rage on, Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin stated, “The program continues to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations.”

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