NewsDenver7 | Investigates


Some pharmacies not complying with Colorado's EpiPen price cap law

Senator confirms pharmacies are not following new law
Posted: 10:01 PM, Mar 02, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-10 15:53:38-04
EpiPen cost cap

DENVER — Epinephrine, commonly known by the brand EpiPen, is a life-saving medication for more than 500,000 Colorodans. On January 1, a state law went into effect making the medication available at a more affordable rate. However, Denver7 Investigates is learning some pharmacies are not complying with the rollout.

Earlier this year, House Bill 1002 made epinephrine injectors available for $60 to qualifying residents. This is considerably lower than the up to $700 price tag a two-pack can cost for those without insurance.

Jackson Pugh, a high school rugby player, tells Denver7 he relies on his teammates when he’s on the field. But throughout his life, he’s relied on epinephrine injectors to keep him safe. He has an advanced food allergy to peanuts; exposure can be fatal.

“It's hard for some people to understand the kind of fear of living in a world where something as small as like a Reese's Pieces could be life-threatening,” Jackson said.

Jackson is also thankful his parents can afford the medication needed to save his life.

“I am fortunate enough where my parents have the money to afford it every year but there are some people who don't have enough money to afford it,” he said.

Jackson’s mother, Keri Pugh, has carried the financial burden of EpiPen purchases for 15 years. Both her son and daughter have allergies and need access to them.

“We estimate we paid north of $25,000 on this particular product. I think that's conservative,” Keri Pugh said.

The high costs are exactly the reason Jackson and his mother testified in front of state lawmakers last year, helping to pass HB-1002. Keri Pugh said she was excited to see lawmakers step up.

Two months into the rollout, Denver7 Investigates has received calls and emails from multiple people who have heard and experienced pharmacies not complying with the new law. Denver7 Investigates took concerns to state Senator Dylan Roberts, who helped co-sponsor the bill. He confirmed the issues and complaints from Coloradans who say they still can’t access EpiPens for $60.

“It's disappointing to hear,” Roberts said. “It's disrespectful to the state of Colorado by these big pharma companies and it's disrespectful to Coloradans, especially ones who need this lifesaving medication.”

“To put it mildly ... disappointed, anger, frustration,” Keri Pugh said when asked to react to the concerns uncovered. “It is telling me that those in power to do something don't care.”

Denver7 Investigates plans to find out exactly why a state law that carries a potential $10,000 fine is being violated by pharmacies. Over the next several days, the investigative team will visit several pharmacies to identify the reason being those not complying with the new state law.

“My kids' lives are valuable,” Keri Pugh said. “I can't protect them all the time."

Denver7 Investigates reached out to the Colorado Retail Council for comment and perspective on behalf of pharmacies. They have not responded to our questions.

This is a developing story. Denver7 Investigates will be updating this story based on the answers we receive at various pharmacies.

Got a tip? Send it to the Denver7 Investigates team
Use the form below to send us a comment or story idea you'd like the Denver7 Investigates team to check out. You can also email or call our newsroom at 303-832-0200.