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March 7, 2023

Bill to Lower Cost of EpiPens Advances in House

DENVER, CO - The House today passed legislation on a preliminary vote to cap the cost of epinephrine auto injector devices at $60 for a 2-pack and save Coloradans money on life-saving medications.

“No Coloradan should have to choose between life-saving medication and putting a roof over their head,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, D-Denver. “Right now, one company has a monopoly over epinephrine auto-injectors, allowing them to price EpiPens at nearly $700 for a 2-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 for all Coloradans.”

“The current prices for an EpiPen 2-pack are inaccessible for hardworking Coloradans, requiring nursing assistants, child care workers, and cashiers to work over 40 hours to pay for their life-saving medication,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “Capping out-of-pocket costs for EpiPens will save families money and ensure that every Coloradan has equitable access to this essential medication.”

An epinephrine auto-injector is a medical device that is used to dispense epinephrine, a hormone that quickly combats life-threatening reactions including swollen airways and rapidly dropping blood pressure. It is commonly used by people with moderate to severe allergies, in addition to other medical issues, to prevent a fatal anaphylactic reaction. Epinephrine auto-injectors are commonly referred to by the trademark name “EpiPen”, which was acquired by one company in 2007. Since then, prices have increased over 660% to $690 for a 2-pack. Because EpiPens expire a year after purchase, Coloradans have been forced to spend hundreds of dollars annually for medication that can save them from potentially lethal reactions.

HB23-1002 was highlighted by the Colorado House Democrats as legislation that drives the key agenda for the 2023 Legislative Session. It creates the Epi-Pen Affordability Program, where uninsured Coloradans with a prescription can apply online through the Colorado Division of Insurance to obtain low-cost epinephrine auto-injectors. Under this bill, manufacturers would be required to post access to the program on their websites. The bill also requires insurance carriers that provide coverage for epinephrine auto-injectors to cap the out-of-pocket cost to $60 for a 2-pack. 

With over 500,000 Coloradans experiencing severe food allergies and over 430,000 Coloradans with asthma, this bill will help nearly a million individuals and families across the state get low-cost access to the emergency medication they need.

This legislation is modeled after successful policy passed by Colorado Democrats in recent years to limit profiteering off essential medication. Senator Dylan Roberts sponsored HB21-1307, creating the Colorado Insulin Affordability Program and successfully reducing insulin prescription costs without shifting them to the marketplace or insurance policy consumers. The bill caps monthly insulin costs at $100, regardless of the number of prescriptions a person may have. Insulin is used similarly to EpiPens in regulating bodily reactions. Without insulin or EpiPens, individuals can experience dangerous and potentially fatal symptoms.

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