Drugmaker Viatris has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over the pricing of its EpiPen allergy device by paying $264 million. The suit was brought by a coalition of consumers and health insurance providers.
The company, which recently changed its name from Mylan, got caught up in the debate over prescription drug prices in 2008 when it hiked the cost of the EpiPen, which is used to treat severe allergic shock, from $100 to $600.
The plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against the drug company, charging that it engaged in a scheme to pay generic drugmakers to put off production of a generic version of the Epipen. Originally, the plaintiffs sought $1 billion in damages.
A large part of that case was dismissed in court last year. The judge, however, left intact the suit’s claim that Mylan’s 2012 patent litigation settlement with generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical included a “pay-for-delay” agreement.
Seventeen price increases
The 2017 suit claimed that Mylan increased the list price of the EpiPen 17 times after acquiring the rights to market and distribute it, increasing prices from $90.28 to $608.62. This caused some patients to resort to carrying expired EpiPens or using syringes to manually inject epinephrine, the drug that helps counteract severe allergic reactions.
The plaintiffs charged that this once-affordable drug that has been available for more than 100 years and costs pennies to produce is now out of reach for many patients. Since then, the company and its widely used product have been at the forefront of a consumer backlash about the high cost of prescription drugs.
Viatris said in a statement that by agreeing to the settlement, which is pending court approval, the company does not admit any liability.