Viatris has agreed to pay $264 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of tripling the price of its EpiPens, the epinephrine auto-injector devices used to treat severe allergic reactions. None of Viatris’ officials or lawyers responded to a request for comment on the settlement, though the company’s quarterly earnings report stated that “the settlement contains no admission of liability.” Pfizer, which produces EpiPens through two of its subsidiaries, King Pharmaceuticals and Meridian Medical Technologies, settled its portion of the lawsuit for $345 million, as it denied any wrongdoing.
In 2016, Viatris, formerly Mylan, tripled the price of its EpiPens overnight. A legal battle ensued soon after Mylan raised the price of a pack of two devices to $608 from $100, its price since 2007. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit included consumers, third-party payers, and health insurance companies, and their argument was that Mylan was “unlawfully exercising its monopoly power.”
The plaintiffs argued that the price increase was driven “by unaccountable executives and companies who sought to profit off of human misery and fear” and not by shortages in supply of epinephrine. Some consumers involved in the lawsuit had spent thousands of dollars on EpiPens over the years. A woman from Arizona had spent $2,475 on them for her son who has a nut allergy. A father from Delaware had spent more than $1,100 on them of this son who has an allergy to milk, eggs, and peanuts.
Viatris’ board of directors believes that “this settlement is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders,” and that the company can now move forward and focus on its “mission of empowering people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life.”
It is hard to tell whether this will be the last time Viatris finds itself facing legal challenges regarding the pricing of its EpiPens, as it has a history of doing so. In 2016, The U.S. Justice Department and other government agencies alleged that Mylan had overcharged Medicaid for its EpiPens by “improperly classifying it as a generic drug.” Mylan paid $465 in a settlement in response to this alleged issue.