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Wyden Says EpiPen Maker May Owe Taxpayers Money

<p>Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says the makers of EpiPen may owe taxpayers money.</p>

Mark Zaleski

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says the makers of EpiPen may owe taxpayers money.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, says the maker of the allergy drug EpiPen may owe taxpayers a lot of money for failing to reimburse Medicaid properly over the past decade.

The pharmaceutical company Mylan has been criticized for raising the price of its EpiPen to more than $600 apiece.

Now, Wyden is calling for a federal investigation into whether the company overcharged Medicaid by mis-classifying the EpiPen as a generic drug.

Medicaid charges less for generic drugs. But Wyden says the company told the FDA to consider EpiPens a brand name that costs more.

“I don’t see the argument for having it both ways," he said at a media briefing in Portland Monday. "The argument you can be a brand name when it’s helpful to you, and you can be generic when you don’t have to pay as much for needy vulnerable patients doesn’t wash with me.”

Mylan says it followed the rules for Medicaid reimbursements, and it will release a cheaper version of the EpiPen that will be classified as a generic drug.

Wyden says he won't "sit idly by and watch taxpayers and patients get fleeced." He's asking federal agencies to find out whether the company has been gaming the system.

"There's some evidence they've really been shorting the Medicaid program," he said. "This goes back well over a decade. If this is correct, and certainly the evidence is very troubling, they may owe the taxpayers a lot of money."

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting