“This program will reduce health care costs and bring significant health benefits to the state — including the potential to save lives,” said Sen. Lesser
BOSTON — On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker signed a budget, approved by both the House and Senate, which included a budget amendment sponsored by Senator Eric P. Lesser to create a bulk purchase program for cities and towns to buy doses of EpiPens at a reduced price.
The proposal was based on the successful Narcan bulk purchase program, which was created by the Senate in 2015 and is administered by the Office of the Attorney General.
That program allows cities and towns to pool their resources to buy doses of the overdose-reversal drug Narcan in bulk, reducing the price.
The goal of this amendment is to replicate that success with EpiPens, for which 10,000 schoolchildren in Massachusetts have prescriptions.
“As the price of EpiPens has continued to climb, parents have been forced to make unbearable choices between paying for a lifesaving drug for their child or paying for any number of other bills. This program will reduce health care costs and bring significant health benefits to the state — including the potential to save lives,” said Sen. Lesser.
Earlier this month, Sen. Lesser and a constituent, Dr. Mark Kenton at Mercy Medical Center, testified in favor of the proposal before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.
Last year, Dr. Kenton wrote an open letter to the CEO of Mylan, maker of the EpiPen, that went viral on Facebook.
Mylan, the pharmaceutical company, acquired the decades-old product in 2007, when pharmacies paid less than $100 for a two-pen set, and has since been steadily raising the wholesale price.
In 2009, a pharmacy paid $103.50 for a set. By July 2013 the price was up to $264.50, and it rose 75 percent to $461 by last May. This May the price spiked again to $608.61, according to data provided by Elsevier Clinical Solutions’ Gold Standard Drug Database.
“Any family will have six to eight at home, $600 for one 2-pack, you’re looking at 1,800 dollars at least. It’s just a huge cost burden,” Dr. Kenton said.
Now, the bulk purchase program will allow the state to leverage its purchasing power to lower the price of EpiPens for families and allergy sufferers who need it.