The soaring price of EpiPens, and Mylan Pharmaceutical's intent to authorize generic versions and grant discounts, draws increased scrutiny from Congress.

EpiPen (Photo courtesy of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)

New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone (D-6) and House colleagues Gene Green (D-TX) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) seek explanations from Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, and also a hearing before House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

Pallone, of Monmouth County, is a ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Green is a ranking member of Health Subcommittee. DeGette is a ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

The epinephrine auto-injector has assumed a place in the consumer medical spectrum as a convenient, portable, yet powerful method of combating allergies that could be considered life-threatening.

They're questioning the company's methods in determining an increase in price of more than 400 percent since obtaining rights to the allergy medication in 2007, from $57 dollars to more than $600.

The legislators estimated that EpiPen sales accounted for more than $1,000,000,000 for Mylan in 2015, about 40 percent of its profits.

In written communication to Bresch, the Democrats said, "We would like more information to understand Mylan's pricing of its EpiPen and how the company is ensuring that patients suffering from allergic emergencies have access to these life-saving products. Further, please explain why Mylan chose to authorize a generic product versus reducing the cost of its brand name EpiPen - a brand American consumers have consistently relied on for decades."

Among their other questions: What specific product improvements or investments affected the pricing, based on company statements to that effect; what research did Mylan undertake to gauge the price imnpact on consumers; which patient advocates, hospitals, insurors or other stakeholders were consulted; how many of the devices are purchased for federal programs; why Mylan instituted a savings card program instead of implementing an overall price cut, and whether the company considered the effect on taxpayers in a program that excludes federal participation.

Terming the price fluctuation as "troubling," the Democrats have requested a Congressional hearing in September.

Pallone's actions surface amid allegations by his November Republican opponent, Brent Sonnek-Schmelz, of some $10,000 in contributions from Mylan's political action committee to the Democrat's campaign coffers since 2005, based on Sonnek-Schmelz's reading of Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports.

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