WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley today pressed the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs for details on agency spending for EpiPens amid substantial price increases for the product, including whether the taxpayers overpaid through those agencies and are owed a rebate.

“We know the price increase for EpiPens is hitting individual consumers and Medicare and Medicaid,” Grassley said.  “It’s important to get a handle on the effects of the price increases on members of the military, veterans, and agency budgets for prescription drug spending.  We need to determine whether taxpayers overpaid for the EpiPen through the Department of Defense and the VA and whether they deserve a rebate, as they do with Medicaid.  Spending that isn’t warranted squeezes the health care budget.”

Grassley wrote to the agencies amid findings that certain components of the Defense Department pay more for EpiPens than others.  “It is important to understand why DoD retail network pharmacies are paying 60 percent more for the same product, when it appears DoD is entitled to receive significant discounts in the retail pharmacy network,” Grassley wrote to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Grassley noted that the U.S. military uses a different but similar auto-injector when  military personnel are exposed to chemical warfare agents, “Yet, the VA is paying more than 70 percent more to access the EpiPen,” Grassley wrote.  “It is important to understand why the government is paying a vastly different price for such similar products from the same manufacturer.”

Grassley began investigating the price increases for EpiPens in August, when Iowans raised the issue to his attention.  As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he announced a hearing on Nov. 30 to examine the reported settlement between the Justice Department and Mylan, the EpiPen maker, on overcharges to Medicaid via the misclassification of the EpiPen under the Medicaid drug rebate program.

Grassley’s letters to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are available here and here.