TRENTON - Families in New Jersey are being forced to go without lifesaving EpiPens, according to pharmacists who testified in front of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Thursday.

Representatives for Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens, refused to attend the hearing, according to the committee chair. A two-pack of EpiPens cost only $57 in 2007. Mylan recently increased the price to $600.

“It’s drug companies like this company who have no respect for our taxpayers, have no respect for the health care system and would rape people with these outrageous prices,” Sen. Richard Codey said. “That's why they're not here today.”

EpiPens are used to inject the lifesaving drug epinephrine to people with severe allergies.

Pharmacists say that epinephrine isn’t the only drug affected by large price increases. They testified that they have seen other drugs, including antibiotics, increase in price.

“There’s azithromycin, 250 milligram. It’s an antibiotic. It used to be about $5 for a bottle of 100. It's $953.18 right now,” testified one pharmacist.

Health experts say that the price increases are due in part to the structure of the U.S. health care system. They say that drug companies may be trying to make a profit while they can before new regulations are put into place.

A United States Senate subcommittee announced this week that it will open an investigation into the EpiPen price increase.