The full Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson and Angela McKnight to help increase the affordability of EpiPens by requiring them to once again be sold as single units rather than in multiples.
Specifically, the bill (A-4094) would prohibit manufacturers or distributors of epinephrine auto-injectors for patients in New Jersey from marketing or distributing the devices in a fashion that requires a patient to purchase multiple epinephrine auto-injectors in a single transaction.
"Since 2009, the price of the EpiPen has increased more than 500 percent, resulting in the inability of some families to afford this life-saving drug," said Conaway, Chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee (D-Burlington). "Until more affordable, generic versions reach the market, this will help make this critical device more accessible."
Currently, the dominant epinephrine auto-injector product, EpiPen, is sold to consumers only in a package that includes two devices. A single unit package was discontinued in 2011. This bill would require the manufacturer of EpiPen, Mylan, to once again make these products available in single unit packages.
"The cost of EpiPens has skyrocketed to what amounts to highway robbery for the average family," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Allowing the devices to be sold in single units could mean the difference between having access to life-saving treatment or foregoing it altogether."
"While the FDA does recommend having two injectors available in case an additional dose is necessary, it makes sense to allow for the sale and purchase of one auto-injector at a reduced price so that families who cannot afford two units at once may purchase a single unit instead of passing on the drug altogether," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
Under the bill, a business that is authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration to manufacture or distribute epinephrine auto-injectors in packaging containing more than a single epinephrine auto-injector would be required to immediately apply for approval to manufacture or distribute epinephrine auto-injectors in packaging containing a single epinephrine auto-injector.
"With more and more children developing allergies, EpiPens have proven a life-saving, must-have," said McKnight (D-Hudson). "Unfortunately, the appalling increase in cost has put it out of the reach for many families. This bill will help mitigate that problem until more affordable generic versions reach the market."
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration. It would take effect immediately upon enactment.