Lesser Amendment to Create EpiPen Bulk Purchase Program Passes Senate

“Today we took a stand against the outrageous and greedy price gouging of EpiPens,” said Sen. Lesser

BOSTON — On Wednesday, the state Senate voted unanimously to approve a budget amendment sponsored by Senator Eric P. Lesser that would create a bulk purchase program for cities and towns to buy doses of EpiPens at a reduced price.

The proposal was based off 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.

In the first half of 2016, the Narcan bulk purchase program was responsible for saving 1,500 lives according to a report from the Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner.

The goal of this amendment is to replicate that success with EpiPens, which have been prescribed to about 10,000 schoolchildren in Massachusetts as of 2012, the last year for which data are readily available.

“Today we took a stand against the outrageous and greedy price gouging of EpiPens. 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 is an issue that affects too many in our Commonwealth to be ignored, especially in Western Mass, whose schools have been reported to have the highest Epinephrine administration rates out of all Massachusetts school regions,” said Sen. Lesser.

During the debate, Sen. Lesser read an emotional letter from a constituent, Dr. Mark Kenton at Mercy Medical Center, to the CEO of Mylan, maker of the EpiPen.

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.

The amendment will be included in the Senate version of the budget, which will be negotiated with House members before a final budget proposal is sent to the governor's desk.