Local parents file lawsuit against maker of EpiPen for 'overpayment' of skyrocketing drug costs

Posted at 5:30 AM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 18:10:55-04

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati attorney Carl Lewis says he will become one of the first lawyers in the United States to file a class-action lawsuit against the makers of the EpiPen over skyrocketing costs Tuesday morning. 

The price of the EpiPen, a device designed to combat life-threatening allergic reactions, has climbed from about $100 in 2007 to $600 to $700 for a pack of two in 2016. The pharmaceutical company Mylan acquired the company in 2007 and is responsible for the price increase. 

This isn't the first class-action suit filed, but it's the first going after the increased price tag. An additional federal lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed against Mylan on Aug. 23 in Detroit. That lawsuit alleges the company engages in price gouging by forcing customers to buy the pens in packs of two, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The EpiPen customers behind this local lawsuit -- being filed at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning in Hamilton County -- want to recover what they call "overpayments" to Mylan.

"There is no legitimate, lawful reason for these price increases," the lawsuit alleges. It also says the Ohio Consumer Sales Protection Act promises Ohioans the right to be free from "price gouging," especially on medically necessary products.

The lawsuit calls the rising cost of the potentially life-saving drug an "unlawful scheme involving the exorbitant and unconscionable price increase of more than 548 percent since 2007 of its consumer drug product," and the familiar story of one family's struggle to keep up with those costs is behind it. 

A Cincinnati mother involved in the suit says she paid $50 in 2015 for her son's EpiPen, which expires in October. Her pharmacist told her that same dose now costs $600. Her son uses the drug to treat his peanut allergy and has relied on it since he was 5 years old. 

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of money to be determined at trial. More information will be available after the attorney and plaintiffs hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday.