After facing major backlash over the rising cost of the life-saving allergy treatment EpiPen, drugmaker Mylan said Monday that it will offer a generic version for half the price of the brand-name treatment.
Over the past several weeks, Mylan and the EpiPen have been at the center of a national controversy over skyrocketing drug prices.
The uproar began when the pharmaceutical company raised the price of the EpiPen, a device that administers epinephrine to people suffering from allergic reactions to food or insect stings. Those who use the device are questioning the reasoning behind the latest price hike which equals a 400% increase in the cost of the drug over the last 10 years.
Why did the cost go up?
In the midst of rising concerns, Mylan defended the price hikes, explaining the cost of the EpiPen ‘has changed over time to better reflect important product features and the value the product provides.’ The company also said it has ‘made a significant investment to support the device over the past years.’ A statement from the company also referenced the Affordable Care Act as a part of the problem.
So why is this just now becoming a nationally recognized concern? According to some analysts, the reason that people have become alarmed over the cost of the device is because insurance plans are requiring customers to pay higher deductibles — meaning you have to pay more money out of pocket before the insurance payments kick in to cover the cost of the drug.
Read more: 14 ways to save on the cost of prescriptions
Mylan announces new generic EpiPen
According to a statement from the company, the generic version ‘will be identical to the branded product, including device functionality and drug formulation.’
The generic EpiPen will be available within several weeks, stating at a list price of $300 for a two-pack — in dosages of either 0.15 mg or 0.30 mg. the company said.
Mylan will still sell the brand-name EpiPen and continue to offer a $300 discount to families that qualify for assistance, based on their income.
In the statement, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said, ‘We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of 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.’
‘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 said.
‘Generic drugs have a long, proven track record of delivering significant savings to both patients and the overall healthcare system. The launch of a generic EpiPen®, which follows the steps we took last week on the brand to immediately reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs, will offer a long-term solution to further reduce costs and ease the burden and complexity of the process on the patient.’
While Bresch called the move an ‘extraordinary response’ to recent concerns, some reports say it could be a precautionary move as the company will soon face a generic competitor — although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has delayed the launch of that alternative drug to at least 2017.