Viatris Settles EpiPen Antitrust Litigation for $264 Million
Viatris, the drugmaker formerly known as Mylan, announced on Monday that it has agreed to pay $264 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the company was involved in an illegal scheme to monopolize the market for automatic adrenaline injectors known as EpiPens, which are used to treat severe allergic reactions. The proposed settlement, which must be approved by a judge, would resolve a legal battle that began after Mylan raised the price for a two-pack of EpiPens in 2016 from $100 to $608 prices since 2007, according to court documents.
In the lawsuit, a group of plaintiffs made up of consumers, health insurers and other third-party payers argued that by drastically raising the price of EpiPens, the drugmaker “illegally exercised its monopoly power,” the complaint says.
“Was the price increase due to market conditions, increased production costs, or a lack of adrenaline?” The complaint says “Absolutely not. They were run entirely by irresponsible executives and companies that sought to profit from human suffering and fear.”
Many people involved in the lawsuit have paid thousands of dollars for EpiPens over the years, including an Arizona mother who paid $2,475 out of pocket for her son who is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts, and a Delaware father who spent more than $1,100 on EpiPens for his son, who is allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts, according to the lawsuit.
EpiPens are manufactured by two Pfizer subsidiaries – King Pharmaceuticals and Meridian Medical Technologies – and sold by Viatris. In July, Pfizer and its subsidiaries settled their $345 million portions of the lawsuit and denied any wrongdoing. In its quarterly earnings report on Monday, Viatris said the company “claims to have acted lawfully and in the interests of competition, and the settlement does not include an admission of liability.”
“The Board of Directors believes that this settlement is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders,” the statement said. “Resolving these indirect customer cases will allow the company to move forward and continue to focus on its strategic priorities and its mission to empower people around the world to live healthier lives at every stage of life.”
Lynn Sarko, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that he urged consumers and third-party payers who have paid for EpiPens to learn more about settling the dispute on the website to file a complaint.
“We are pleased that the EpiPen antitrust litigation has been completed,” another lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Paul Geller, said in a statement, adding that the settlement is subject to court approval.
The lawsuit also alleged that the drug maker misclassified EpiPens under the Medicaid drug rebate program to save hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates and that it interfered with regulatory procedures to delay competitors entering the market.
The price hike in 2016 caused widespread outrage, especially among parents of allergic children. Thousands of people signed the petition urging Congress to intervene.
Following protests against the company’s 2016 price increase for EpiPens, Mylan, as Viatris was then known, introduced a generic version of its own product. But the wholesale list price was announced at $300 for a two-pack, half the price of the branded drug EpiPen.
In 2016, Milan reached a $465 million settlement with the Department of Justice and other government agencies over allegations that the drugmaker had inflated the cost of Medicaid treatment by misclassifying it as a generic drug.