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Lawmakers pressure EpiPen maker to explain price hikes

"Iowans also wrote that since the pens expire after about a year, the cost is recurring". "This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost", Mylan said.

Jackie Davis of Newport News, Va., and her husband, Cory, recently moved from health coverage through the military, which covered all costs for their son Michael's EpiPens and asthma inhalers, to a commercial plan with a $6,000 deductible. He made the comments about the company's repeated decisions to raise the prices of EpiPens, which are now nearly five and a half times more expensive than they were in 2007.

An EpiPen is a device that allows the injection of epinephrine, which can work to quickly relieve symptoms of severe allergic reactions or other risky medical conditions.

Symptoms include an itchy rash, swelling of the tongue or throat, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness and low blood pressure.

Activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices in NY on October 1, 2015, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing.

Only about 5% of people in the United States have experienced anaphylaxis, according to a 2013 medical journal report, but few parents are willing to take the chance with a severely allergic child as students return to school.

The number of children affected is growing.

The price increases have helped transform the EpiPen into a billion-dollar business, despite being a decades-old product.

"As students head back to school, schools and parents are restocking on EpiPens, which have a one-year shelf life".

"Parents are furious" over the cost increase, said Hicks, who also practices in Ho-Ho-Kus.

"I just expect it now".

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"How do they justify this", Hicks asked, when the drug isn't new?

Forbes estimates the actual drug inside an EpiPen costs Mylan about $1 per device.

Mylan bought EpiPen from the Merck Group in 2007, and has since raised the price by more than 450 percent, adjusted for inflation, reported the Boston Globe's health publication STAT.

Since pharmaceutical company Mylan got the rights to the product in 2007, the price has increased by as much as 900 percent.

EpiPens are used to ward off potentially fatal allergic reactions, and the price has surged in recent years. The company is defending the price increases, but doctors say they're putting lives in jeopardy.

Insurance companies increasingly are offering high-deductible plans, and research shows that such plans represent the only option for employees of more than one in five companies. The senate intends to look into why its pharmaceutical manufacturer has increased the price at such an astronomical scale.

Mylan did not immediately comment on the letters but noted in an email that almost 80 percent of people with commercial insurance who use a savings card can get the medicine for free. At around $400 for two devices, "it's cheaper but it's still pricey", Hermes-DeSantis said.

DeCoster said she wants to know why prices are going up, especially when EpiPen is not a competitive market.

A spokesman for Impact Laboratories, the drug maker that produces Adrenaclick, said the devices are produced manually and the supply is limited.

Excellus' Chitre says insurers have more room to negotiate when there is more competition than exists with EpiPen.

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