(COLORADO) — The House Health and Insurance Committee unanimously passed legislation to cap the cost of epinephrine ejector devices, or ‘EpiPens,’ by a vote of 10-0, Friday on Feb. 3.

The EpiPen Affordability Program created through HB23-1002 allows uninsured Coloradans to apply for low-cost EpiPens. Those with a prescription can apply online through the Colorado Division of Insurance.

New legislation caps out-of-pocket costs for EpiPens
(Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Under this bill, insurance carriers are required to cap out-of-pocket costs of EpiPens to $60 for a 2-pack. The bill also requires manufacturers to give access to the EpiPen Affordability Program on their websites.

Currently, EpiPens cost Coloradans 43 times what manufacturers spend to make them, according to Representative Javier Mabrey, D-Denver. Corporations are notorious for increasing drug prices leaving families with no choice but to budget large expenses for life-saving medication, stated Rep. Mabrey.

“Price gouging has emptied the pockets of Colorado families for far too long, which is why we’ve introduced this bill to limit profiteering off of this life-saving medicine,” said Rep. Mabrey.

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, per a press release. EpiPens expire a year after purchase, forcing Coloradans to spend hundreds of dollars annually for medication they may not even use.

EpiPens are medical devices 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 those with moderate to severe allergies, in addition to other medical issues, to prevent fatal anaphylactic reactions.

“Limiting out-of-pocket costs will greatly improve access for people of color, low-income, disabled, rural, and senior communities that are both more reliant on emergency medication like EpiPens and less likely to have health insurance coverage,” said Representative Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. 

report from 2021 found that racial and ethnic, rural, disabled, lower-income, and LGBTQ+ communities are more likely to be exposed to living conditions that can lead to health problems. For example, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as lower-income communities are more likely to live in areas with poor air quality, which can cause children to develop long-term asthma issues.

With over 500,000 Coloradans experiencing severe food allergies and over 430,000 Coloradans with asthma, HB23-1002 aims to help nearly a million individuals and families across the state get low-cost access to emergency medication, per a press release.