Mylan Boosts Price Assistance for EpiPen Amid Backlash

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Mylan NV responded Thursday to backlash over price increases for its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment by promising to reduce the costs that some patients pay, though the drugmaker stopped short of saying it would roll back prices or limit future increases.

EpiPen is a lifesaving treatment for millions whose allergies can send them into severe shock, including many schoolchildren who are advised to keep an injector handy at all times. A pack of two lists for $608.61, up 548% since Mylan began selling the drug in late 2007, according to Truven Health Analytics.

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After widespread criticism recently, Mylan said Thursday that it was "doubling eligibility" for its EpiPen patient assistance program to 400% of the poverty level, saying that a family of four making $97,200 would now pay nothing out of pocket for a prescription.

It also said it would expand its savings card that currently covers copays by up to $100, which would put its maximum at $300. That means patients with commercial insurance could have their out-of-pocket expenses reduced. According to Mylan's website, the current savings card cannot be used by those who are uninsured or who use government-funded insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid.

Both Democrats and Republicans have leveled criticisms against the increases and some have called for investigations. Among those joining in Wednesday were Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the top Republican and top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Separately, the American Medical Association called on Mylan to limit the "exorbitant costs" of the drug.

"We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter," Chief Executive Heather Bresch said. "However, price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today's actions."

Mylan blamed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, for more patients facing higher drug costs as they have enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans or are uninsured.

Write to Austen Hufford at austen.hufford@wsj.com and Jonathan D. Rockoff at Jonathan.Rockoff@wsj.com