Cheaper generic EpiPen doesn't quiet critics

August 30, 2016

Despite offering a generic version of its EpiPen, Mylan has been unable to curb the backlash that began in late August over the cost of its epinephrine injection.

Despite offering a generic version of its EpiPen, Mylan has been unable to curb the backlash that began in late August over the cost of its epinephrine injection.

After protests over EpiPen’s price spiking to more $600 per two-pack this year, Mylan first said it would offer discounts on its EpiPen Auto-Injector treatment to stop allergic reactions.

After continued outrage over the price spike, the drug maker said recently that it would begin marketing the first generic version of EpiPen for around $300 per 2-pack, which represents a discount of more than 50% to the Mylan list price, or wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of the branded drug, according to a press release.

Related: EpiPen discounts offered after pricing flap

“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 Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.

The product's launch is due in several weeks, pending completion of labeling revisions, in 2-pack cartons of either 0.15 mg or 0.30 mg strengths. “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,” Bresch said.

However, the move did not quiet Mylan’s critics.

"Mylan recently announced a generic version for $300. That's still five times as expensive as it was in 2007: a 526% increase in total," wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders on Twitter.

Related: Top 7 new facts about drug spending

Plus, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform demanded Mylan provide documents explaining how it raised the drug’s price  since the company acquired the product in 2007.

In addition, 20 Democratic senators sent a letter to Bresch, criticizing Mylan for offering coupons to help cover the costs. “These changes will help some customers who are struggling to afford EpiPens,” the senators wrote. “Your discount programs, however, represent a well-defined industry tactic to keep costs high through a complex shell game.”

Mylan’s new savings card was launched to cover up to $300 for patients’ EpiPen 2-Pak. “For patients who were previously paying the full amount of the company's list price for EpiPen, this effectively reduces their out-of-pocket cost exposure by 50%,” the company said.

Mylan also said it is doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program to 400% of the federal poverty level. “This means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for their EpiPen Auto-Injector,” the company said.

Read more: Hearing ups pressure on drugmakers’ prices