DENVER (CBS4)– The maker of EpiPens offered patients more help to pay for its costly emergency allergy shots but didn’t budge Thursday on the $608 price. Some insurance companies won’t take the coupons which leaves little choice for families who depend on the medication.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch defended her company’s price hikes Thursday, saying that lowering the price was not an option. Bresch said the company only receives $274 of the $608 for a twin-package of EpiPens. She said insurers, pharmacies, prescription benefit managers and distributors divvy up the rest.

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Instead of a price cut, Mylan said it was expanding programs that help people pay for EpiPens or give them out free. It doubled the limit for eligibility for its patient assistance program, so a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket. It also said it will offer $300 copay cards, up from the current $100 per-prescription savings. That would cut the bill in half for patients who have to pay full price.

“I was dumbfounded and of course it’s a very serious issue,” said Dina Clifford. “My price right now is $275 per pack.

Clifford recently switched insurance companies before she renewed her supply of EpiPens for her two children who suffer from peanut allergies.

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“I have to buy these for 12 years for two children,” said Clifford. “This could be the difference between saving a life and not saving a life.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

EpiPens, which have little competition, are used in emergencies to treat severe allergies to insect bites and foods like nuts and eggs that can lead to anaphylactic shock. People usually keep a number of EpiPens handy at home, school or work. The syringes, prefilled with the hormone epinephrine, expire after a year.

When she went to the Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy, she was told the copay savings card wasn’t accepted.

“My problem with buying them right now is my current provider doesn’t have the access to accept the rebate so when I take my copay coupon in, they have no way of processing it,” said Clifford.

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Kaiser Permanente released this statement, “We are looking into this particular coupon. We have been concerned for some time about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the price hike of EpiPen is the latest example. The current drug pricing market is broken and we believe it’s time for a new model that rewards innovation and value.”