Mylan introduces first generic EpiPen at over 50-percent discount

Mylan on Friday announced the launch of the first authorised generic version of its EpiPen (epinephrine) auto-injector at $300 per pack of two pens, making it less than half the wholesale acquisition cost of the branded product. The company said the generic version will be available as of next week through retail channels.

Mylan disclosed plans to launch a generic version of EpiPen, as well as expand programmes to reduce costs for the emergency allergy treatment, earlier this year amid growing scrutiny from US lawmakers about the product's pricing.

CEO Heather Bresch stated that "Americans are rightfully concerned about rising drug prices," adding that "while it is important to understand the outdated and complex system that determines what someone pays for medicine in the US, hardworking families don't need an explanation, they need a solution." She said the "unprecedented" move to introduce generic EpiPen, "along with the enhancements we made to our patient access programmes, will help patients and provide substantial savings to payors." However, the CEO predicted patients would continue to "face sticker shock for medications and may be forced to make difficult choices until the pharmaceutical pricing system is reformed to address the increasing shift of costs directly to consumers."

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Bresch defended Mylan's pricing practices before a congressional hearing in September, arguing that "after rebates and various fees" were deducted by distribution intermediaries from the wholesale acquisition cost of $608 for a two-unit EpiPen pack, "our profit is $100, or approximately $50 per pen." However, Mylan later told Congress that its EpiPen profits were actually higher than had been disclosed at the hearing.

Meanwhile, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan engaged in antitrust activities by preventing schools from buying competing EpiPen products. The drugmaker also recently agreed to pay $465 million to the US Department of Justice to settle allegations regarding the classification of the allergy treatment under the Medicaid rebate programme.

For related analysis, see ViewPoints: What's the cost of political scrutiny these days? One analyst puts a figure on it, and Spotlight On: Mylan's EpiPen saga could help shine light on murky dealings within supply chain.

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