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State senator introduces resolution to condemn EpiPen price hikes

A pharmacist in Sacramento holds a package of EpiPens. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
A pharmacist in Sacramento holds a package of EpiPens. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

State Sen. Ed Hernandez's attempt to push through a drug pricing transparency bill sputtered this year, but the West Covina Democrat still wants his colleagues to weigh in on the latest controversy in the cost of prescription drugs: the surging price of EpiPens. 

Hernandez is introducing a resolution that excoriates the anti-allergy device's manufacturer, Mylan, joining a chorus of federal lawmakers who have accused the company of price-gouging.

The price of the emergency injection devices meant to treat severe allergic reactions climbed to more than $600 for a two-pack — a more than 500% increase since the drug was acquired by Mylan. Following a firestorm about the price hike, the company has since announced will offer coupons to offset the high cost and that it will sell a cheaper, generic version of the drug.

Hernandez's resolution would urge Congress to investigate Mylan's near-monopoly on the EpiPen and would urge the federal Food and Drug Administration to reconsider denying approval of generic alternatives.

"The federal administration and Congress have the power to limit the unrestrained ability of Mylan to gouge our health care system, and they should use it,”  Hernandez said in a statement.

The measure is the latest sign that Hernandez will continue to hammer pharmaceutical companies on prescription drug prices, even though he opted to pull his measure SB 1010 after it was significantly scaled back earlier this month.

Hernandez, the chair of the state Senate health committee, intends to hold a series of informational hearings about drug prices in the fall, and he plans to invite Mylan's chief executive to participate in one.

“My experience with Senate Bill 1010 has made me more resolved than ever to bring transparency to these arbitrary and harmful drug price increases," he said. "In addition to the series of informational hearings on rising drug prices, I will reintroduce SB 1010 in December. However, something must be done now to correct the market for this particular drug."

The joint resolution will come up for a vote on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon and will then head to the Assembly. It must clear both houses by the close of the legislative session on Wednesday.

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