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Hospital looks to soften drug price hits

​The recent public outcry over steep price increases for Mylan Specialty’s EpiPen, an auto-injection device used to deliver epinephrine to counteract the effects of anaphylactic shock, has shined a light on the profit-generating practices of some drug manufacturers.

University of Colorado Hospital is among the many health care organizations, insurers and individual consumers absorbing the steadily rising cost of the EpiPen, which reached more than $600 for a two-pack this year. The cost of the device has climbed more than five times since 2010. The company hastily announced availability of a $300 coupon card and plans to release a generic version of the auto-injector system, but it took public relations hits after congressional hearings and revelations that it underestimated the profits it earned on sales of the two-pack.
In a hospital like UCH that spends tens of millions of dollars each year for drug supplies, the EpiPen is a relatively small player. Erik Johnson, PharmD, supervisor of Pharmacy Services for UCH, said the hospital dispenses about $20,000 in epinephrine auto-injectors each month, the vast majority of them EpiPens. But the EpiPen is only a high-profile example of the rising cost of drugs, Johnson said.