Following weeks of scandals, the pharmaceuticals company Mylan has finally announced they will launch a half-priced EpiPen. The generic pen would cost $300. According to Mylan officials, the pen will hit the markets in “several weeks”.
Earlier this month, Mylan sparked a public debate regarding the pricing policies of drugs. In 2008, an EpiPen cost around $100. During the past 8 years its price increased to about 6 times as much.
Mylan’s brand-name EpiPen is the only product of its kind on the market. It is a life-saving device for people who suffer from sever allergies. Certain public institutions, such as schools, must also have EpiPens on-hand.
The decision to launch a generic pen is somewhat unusual. The company still holds the patent for the product. And so far, no other pharmaceutical company has managed to create a similar one.
Earlier this week, Mylan had tried to appease the public, by reducing out-of-pocket costs for some patients. However, US lawmakers, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said it was not enough.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had asked Mylan to provide documents that could justify the recent price increase. They requested papers regarding manufacturing costs, revenue and money received from the federal government.
Following the announcement, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted “At $300 generic EpiPens will still cost 3 times more than they did in 2007. This isn’t a discount. It’s a PR move”.
Officials from the public watchdog group Public Citizen seem to agree. They too agree that the half-priced EpiPen is not enough. They want to petition the company to reduce the price to $100 for two EpiPens. This would be the price of a set of pens in France.
Mylan has defended the price increase, saying that it has invested quite a lot in making the product better since 2007.
Half-Priced EpiPen Only Slightly Cheaper than Its Competitor
Mylan owns 94% of the market when it comes to epinephrine auto-injectors. There is another, similar product on the market. Adrenaclick now costs $400, still a very large sum for such a vital device.
Adrenaclick is not as popular as the EpiPen however. Dr. Howard Sellinger, head of family medicine at Quinnipiac University said he prescribed Adrenaclick only twice in his life. He mentioned other doctors aren’t even aware of its existence, because of the EpiPen’s popularity.
Other companies have tried to put out similar products. Unfortunately, because of dosage problems, the FDA did not approve them. Some experts believe that one of the products could hit the markets as early as next year, if it could fix the issue and reapply for market approval. In this case, the EpiPen could have a strong competitor.
During the scandal, Mylan’s stocks dropped 12 points. Following last year’s scandals regarding the price of certain drugs, the US public is already sensitive to price-gouging practices.
Unfortunately, without a real competitor on the market, Mylan can still dictate the price of an epinephrine auto-injector. End-users do not have a choice in the matter either. People suffering from severe allergies cannot decide to stop using auto-injectors. And without a similar product on the market, they are more or less forced to buy EpiPens, until a similar product comes out.
Image Source: Wikimedia