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State Representative Derek Merrin Introduces the "Epinephrine Accessibility Act"

February 28, 2017
Derek Merrin News

COLUMBUS—State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) introduced House Bill 101, known as the “Epinephrine Accessibility Act,” which seeks to make epinephrine auto-injectors more affordable and accessible. National media has reported on the sky-rocketing cost for EpiPens, produced by Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which is reported to control about 90 percent of the epinephrine auto-injector market. The price for EpiPens has increased about 500 percent in recent years, standing at a $600 retail price.

“The key is eliminating government barriers that restrict the free-market availability and consumer access to EpiPen competitors,” Merrin said. “Mylan Pharmaceuticals, drug maker of EpiPen, is exploiting its virtual monopoly in the epinephrine auto-injector space.”

House Bill 101 allows pharmacists to substitute a prescribed, brand-name epinephrine auto-injector for a pharmaceutically equivalent epinephrine auto-injector. For example, if a physician prescribes EpiPen that retails at $600, a pharmacist could substitute a less expensive alternative, with the patient’s consent, that retails as low as $100. Epinephrine auto-injectors are not substitutable under current state law in most instances.

Also, the bill enables pharmacists to dispense epinephrine auto-injectors to adults 18 years of age or older, under a physician’s protocol. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, with consultation of the State Medical Board of Ohio, will establish protocol requirements that govern the conditions under which pharmacists can dispense epinephrine auto-injectors to adults without a prescription.

“This legislation is a free-market solution to the exorbitant cost of epinephrine auto-injectors. By easing access and government restrictions, consumers will have a better opportunity to obtain epinephrine auto-injectors at a lower cost,” said Representative Merrin.

For Ohioans at risk of anaphylactic shock, epinephrine delivered by an auto-injector is a medical necessity and often life-saving. However, the price has become a barrier to access and attainability. The good news is there are multiple epinephrine auto-injectors on the market and more in the pipeline. Under this bill, consumers will have increased ability to work with pharmacists to secure the best epinephrine auto-injector at a competitive price.

Antonio Ciaccia, Director of Government & Public Affairs for the Ohio Pharmacists Association, said,
“Representative Merrin’s bill checks all the boxes for what makes great legislation: eliminating barriers, easing access, reducing unnecessary hassles, and facilitating better competition. It could help save families hundreds of dollars per year and provide them with access to a lifesaving medication.”

House Bill 101 has earned bipartisan support in the Ohio House of Representatives and awaits committee designation.