AUG 29, 2016 03:02 PM PDT

EpiPen Maker Announces Generic Version Amid Public Fury

Mylan, makers of the famed EpiPen recently came under public fire for increasing the price of its life-saving device to over 500 percent. Relenting to intense pressure, the manufacturer issued vouchers intended to slash some out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Now, in its latest attempt to appease consumers and lawmakers, Mylan announced the launch of a generic version of the EpiPen priced at half of its brand-name product.
This brouhaha is the latest example of what critics are calling as blatant drug price hikes by the “big pharma.” Earlier this year, Turing Pharmaceuticals was heavily criticized for changing the price of a drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to a whopping $750 per tablet. By comparison, the price hike for the EpiPen isn’t as bad, but it’s still significant and cost-prohibitive for consumers. In 2007, Mylan charged around $100 for a 2-pack of the EpiPens; now, the price has soared to over $600.
To be sure, no one is debating the medical importance of the EpiPen. These are classified as epinephrine auto-injectors that can mean the difference between life and death for people who have severe anaphylactic reactions. What people are outraged by is the seemingly insensible price boost.
It also didn’t pass notice that the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, received a particularly enormous salary bump in the same time frame (from $2.5 million to close to $19 million annually). It was also Bresch who intensely led the lobbying campaign that required schools to have EpiPens available for students.
 The price hike got the attention of Senator Charles Grassley who formally asked Mylan to explain their pricing.
In response, Mylan cited the high costs of lobbying efforts and the changing structure of insurance plans. "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," said Bresch in a statement.
But no one is buying it.
To alleviate the pressure, Mylan tried to offer vouchers for the brand-name devices. But critics say this tactic does nothing to lower the actual cost of the EpiPens for insurers and other entities.

And now comes the announcement of a cheaper, generic alternative of the EpiPens … by none other than Mylan itself. "The weirdness of a generic drug company offering a generic version of its own branded but off-patent product is a signal that something is wrong," said Robert Weissman, president of the consumer group Public Citizen. This is to say critics see Mylan’s generics as still a masked form of price-gouging.
The furor over Mylan and the EpiPen has the potential to spill over to other manufacturers and drugs/devices. Perhaps then this could be the stimulus for more transparency between drug manufacturers, policy makers, and the consumer.
Additional sources: NPR, StatNews
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
You May Also Like
DEC 05, 2018
DEC 05, 2018
Top 5 Medical Tests to Predict Heart Disease
  A group of five simple medical tests provides doctors and patients a long-term, wide-range glimpse into a person’s risk of developing heart di...
JUL 20, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUL 20, 2018
X-ray Images to Get Colors
In the near future, the X-ray images from your doctor's office will no longer be just black and white, at least that's what MARS Bioimaging Ltd, an...
SEP 05, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
SEP 05, 2018
Iron-based MRI Contrast Outperforms Less Safe Method
A new method for loading iron inside nanoparticles creates MRI contrast agents that work better than the mainstay gadolinium chelates, which face increased...
NOV 07, 2018
NOV 07, 2018
Inflammation Can Steal Your Sleep
A link between inflammation and the circadian rhythm has been determined in mouse models. High-fat-diets may be the cause....
NOV 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 26, 2018
A New Test for Fibromyalgia
Anyone who has experienced severe, chronic pain knows the long process it takes to get a correct diagnosis. Many people see an average of 5-6 specialists b...
DEC 10, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 10, 2018
What To Expect During Your Stress Test
If you or a loved one has been scheduled for a treadmill stress test, you may be wondering what you can expect. The procedure is usually done in a hospital...
Loading Comments...