The controversy continues over the EpiPen auto-injector, a life-saving dosage of epinephrine used for quick acting relief from allergic reactions.
For years, the product has included two auto-injectors costing around $100, although since 2004 the pricing for the anaphylaxis treatment has risen gradually to $600 — a price that has caused sheer outrage.
Patients and families have taken to social media in an attempt to get the maker of EpiPen, Mylan to reduce the price. Met with relatively little success, the company has since responded in several ways that haven’t exactly appeased the masses.
On August 29th, Mylan announced they’d be rolling out a generic version of the EpiPen in order to bypass “today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high-deductible health plans…” according to CEO Heather Bresch.
Additionally, the company responded with a “zero-pay” card usable by families with good insurance, although it only reduces the cost by about $100 for the uninsured and those with high deductibles.
Still fed-up with the expense of this product, several critics pointed out that the cost of the dose of epinephrine amounts to a measly $1 — the rest is shear supply and demand.
Is a Generic EpiPen Good Enough?
The decision to create a generic form of their own product is not necessarily a unique move by Mylan. Essentially the branded version can serve to bring in top dollars while competing with other generic brands.
This entire situation, as outrages as it may seem is really nothing new to the pharmaceutical industry. Near-monopoly production on certain products has simply let things get out of control. As critical as physicians may be of the issue, the difficulty of affording these devices remains an issue for many families.
When faced with buying life-saving EpiPens at high prices over other essentials, many families are making hard decisions. In a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the group expressed that “urgent solutions are needed. Now is the time for all interested stakeholders — families, doctors, manufacturers, distributors, payers and government agencies like the FDA — to act quickly to alleviate the financial hardships faced by families.”
Now, even Congress is putting pressure on Mylan to consider its actions more carefully. Several Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote Bresch urging her to “please explain why Mylan chose to authorize a generic product versus reducing the cost of its brand-name EpiPen.”
20 Democratic senators also demanded details on the company’s program aimed at providing EpiPens to schools, as well as the general market for the device.
August 30th marked the delivery of consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen’s petition signed by over 700,000 people to Mylan’s headquarters outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The petition urges the company to reduce the price of the EpiPen, in an attempt to counter “corporate greed,” according to Rick Claypool, one of Public Citizen’s researchers.
Regardless of Mylan’s perceived lack of consideration for their consumers, this situation serves as an example of just how dependent many have become on certain products — and how companies know it.