EpiPens would cost less under bill that passes Colorado House
The Colorado Capitol on May 9, 2022. (Pema Baldwin for Colorado Newsline)
The Colorado House passed a bill Wednesday that would cap the cost of epinephrine auto-injector devices, or EpiPens, at $60 for a two-pack.
House Bill 23-1002, which passed by a vote of 47-15, was highlighted by House Democrats as one of their key agenda items for the 2023 legislative session. Sponsored by Reps. Javier Mabrey of Denver and Iman Jodeh of Aurora, the bill would create the Epi-Pen Affordability Program, where uninsured Coloradans with a prescription can apply online through the Colorado Division of Insurance to obtain the low-cost EpiPens, used by people with severe food allergies.
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“No Coloradan should have to choose between life-saving medication and putting a roof over their head,” Mabrey said. “Right now, one company has a monopoly over epinephrine auto-injectors, allowing them to price EpiPens at nearly $700 for a two-pack despite only costing $8 for the manufacturer to produce. We’re passing this legislation to ensure that life-saving medication is more affordable and accessible to all Coloradans.”
The bill was modeled after House Bill 21-1307, which became law during the 2021 regular session. That bill created the Colorado Insulin Affordability Program and capped insulin costs at $100 regardless of the number of prescriptions a person may have.
Last week, Eli Lilly announced it was reducing the price of its non-branded insulin to $25 per month and cutting the price of its brand-name insulin, Humalog, by 70% by the end of 2023.
Over 500,000 Coloradans experience severe food allergies and over 430,000 Coloradans have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Without access to EpiPens, people can experience severe symptoms, such as swelling of the mouth, throat or tongue; rashes; nausea; and death in extreme circumstances.
The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote.
“The current prices for an EpiPen two-pack are inaccessible for hardworking Coloradans, requiring nursing assistants, child care workers and cashiers to work over 40 hours to pay their life-saving medication,” Jodeh said. “Capping out-of-pocket costs for EpiPens will save families money and ensure that every Coloradan has equitable access to this essential medication.”
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