NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Express Scripts (ESRX)  were down in early-afternoon trading on Thursday as Leerink analysts say the stock may be under pressure from continued criticism of Mylan's (MYL) EpiPen price hikes, according to Barron's.

Mylan has recently come under fire for the skyrocketing price of its portable allergic reaction inhibitor, EpiPen. The price of EpiPens has increased to about $500 from around $100 in 2008, an increase of approximately 450%.

This morning, the Canonsburg, PA-based pharmaceutical company said it would lower the out-of-pocket cost of its EpiPen by providing a savings card, which would cover as much as $300 for the EpiPen 2-Pak. The savings reduce insureds out-of-pocket exposure by 50%. 

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in an interview with CNBC this morning that the "net price" the company receives is $274. She added that the reason there is such a large gap between the EpiPen's net price and the list price is the "five hands the product goes through."

This insinuates that Express Scripts and CVS Health (CVS), being pharmacy managers, "reap significant profits" from the EpiPen, Leerink said in an analyst note. As a result, both CVS and Express Scripts' shares are under pressure today. 

Express Scripts is based in St. Louis and is the nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager. 

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Shares of CVS were sliding in early-afternoon trading today. Mylan stock was up in early-afternoon trading on Thursday. 

Separately, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

We rate EXPRESS SCRIPTS HOLDING CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and reasonable valuation levels. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

You can view the full analysis from the report here:


ESRX data by YCharts

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