Mylan, stung in recent weeks by public outrage over price increases in their EpiPen device which is used to treat severe allergic reactions, has announced they will introduce a generic version of the product that will sell for about half the price of the brand version. The new version should be available in several weeks and will carry a wholesale list price of $300 for a pack of two, much less than the $600 wholesale price of the existing branded version. The generic $300 price tag would still be triple what the EpiPen cost in 2007, before Mylan acquired the product and began steadily raising its price.
“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of the EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” said beleaguered Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, in a statement that likely satisfied no one — especially critics wondering why Mylan didn’t simply drop the price of the EpiPen rather than create a new generic version of it.
Addressing that point, Ms. Bresch offered the explanation that “Because of the complexity and opaqueness of today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high-deductible health plans, we determined that bypassing the brand system in this case and offering an additional alternative was the best option.”
Bresch has defended EpiPen’s increased pricing, maintaining that Mylan has spent hundreds of millions of dollars improving the product since acquiring it from Merck, including making the needle invisible.
Mylan asserts they recoup less than half of EpiPen’s list price because of the involvement of pharmacy benefit managers, insurers, and others who often require discounted prices or rebates from drugmakers.
Some observers have suggested that Mylan’s move was intended not just to quell public anger over increased EpiPen prices, but to head off competitors seeking to enter the market and offer cheaper alternatives for providing rapid auto-injection of epinephrine (which is already generic) to counter anaphylactic shock