Amid Outrage Makers of EpiPen to Release Cheaper Alternative

Carla Harmon
August 31, 2016

Mylan NV said on Monday it would launch the first generic to its allergy auto-injector EpiPen at a discount of more than 50 percent to the branded product's list price. Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton also entered the fray, saying on her Facebook page that "it's wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them". The price is still high enough to generate lots of money.

In the wake of mounting criticism over recent price hikes, the company said the generic version will be distributed by its US subsidiary.

Despite all these "government fixes" of our medical system, somehow, we've got a major kerfuffle going over the price of EpiPen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, wrote in a Twitter post Monday.

EpiPen has a 94 percent market share for auto-injector devices, which jab a dose of the drug epinephrine into the thigh to counter risky allergic reactions such as to peanuts, other foods and bee stings. An EpiPen still costs only about $100 in Canada.

According to ABC News, only one company, Impax Laboratories, is now making an EpiPen alternative, called Adrenaclick. As of May 2016, Mylan had increased the price of this life-saving device by over 480 percent - from $103.50 for a set of two in 2009 to $608.61 today - while Mylan's own CEO's compensation grew 670 percent.

"It is shameful that executives at Mylan gave themselves massive pay raises as they hiked the price of EpiPens 500 percent".

Both the augmented patient assistance program and the $300 savings card announced last week will remain in place for the brand product.

Mylan had raised a standard two-pack of EpiPens to about $600 over the past several years. Launching a generic version of the EpiPen can help the drugmaker protect its market share from competition.

"I'm exhausted of playing whack-a-mole with these pharmaceutical companies that are grabbing obscene profits while they have a monopoly", U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri said last week.

Baum, known for offering a $1 substitute for the $750 AIDS drug Daraprim, told CNNMoney on Tuesday that his company Imprimis Pharmaceuticals (IMMY) has been quietly working on a compounded version of EpiPen for months.

A chorus of politicians, consumer groups and others has been calling for hearings and investigations of EpiPen pricing, along with action by the Food and Drug Administration to speed approvals of any rival products.

In the same period, the total compensation for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch went up 671 percent from just over $2 million to almost $19 million, NBC News reported.

But Baum says his version of EpiPen would cost very little to make.

Last week, Mylan said it was doubling the limit for eligibility for its patient assistance program, so a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for EpiPens.

EpiPens have been marketed since the 1980s, and some observers have also questioned why Mylan still holds a patent.

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