US EpiPen maker Mylan has come under fire this week after it emerged that the price of the life-saving adrenaline shot had increased 500% since 2007. CEO Heather Bresch blamed Obamacare for the price hike, , but the company partially backed down and offered discounts in some instances in the wake of a sustained backlash. It also emerged that Mylan boss did not complete her MBA and was given an honourary master’s degree instead.
EpiPens are used to save the life of someone with a severe allergic reaction.
The US scandal has raised concerns in Australia, where EpiPens are subsidised under the Pharmeceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
A spokesperson for the federal Department of Health told Business Insider that manufacturers must apply for price increases for medicines under the scheme, and the application is assessed based on market forces and competition. Whether a medicine remains on the PBS is continually assessed, the spokesperson said.
The cost of an EpiPen ranges from $27-$38 under the PBS. The full price is over $100. Concession card holders have a co-payment of $6.20.
Around 73,000 Australians have EpiPen subscriptions.
In the US, former Sex and the City actor Sarah Jessica Parker has withdrawn her endorsement of Mylan due to the price hike.
A person who needs an EpiPen often needs more than one, especially children who need them at home, at school and other places such as childcare.
Epipens generally have a shelf life of around a year and thus need to be replaced regularly.
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