Mylan is going to start selling a cheaper, generic Epipen amid pricing backlash

 
Billy Bambrough
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EpiPen Prices Soar, Rattling Consumers
The market to treat serious allergic reactions – worth $1bn – is dominated by Epipen (Source: Getty)

US pharma firm Mylan is planning to make a cheaper, generic version of its allergy treatment Epipen available after a firestorm erupted over recent price hikes.

Mylan's share price has fallen by around 10 per cent since US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and a senator whose daughter uses the product piled pressure on the company.

Mylan has now said its US subsidiary will put out a generic version of the Epipen – available in both 0.15mg and 0.30mg strengths – that will have a list price of $300 (£229) for a two-pack.

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It's expected the generic version will hit the market in “several weeks,” after labelling revisions.

Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch called the decision to launch a generic an "extraordinary commercial response". She said:

Our decision to launch a generic alternative to Epipen is an extraordinary commercial response, which required the cooperation of our partner.

However, 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.

Generic drugs have a long, proven track record of delivering significant savings to both patients and the overall healthcare system.

The cost of a standard two-pack of Epipens has risen to around $600 from $100 in 2009. Mylan acquired the rights to the drug in 2007.

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Mylan had previously said it would provide instant savings cards worth $300 to patients without insurance who have to pay full price for the drug. These plans are set to remain in place for the branded version.

However, keeping the drug at the same list price meant the overall cost to the health system, mostly borne by insurers and taxpayers, would remain the same.

Drug pricing has become a major issue in the US as public opinion turns against big pharma firms and politicians jump at the opportunity to score some easy points in the polls.

The management of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli were called up before the US congress to answer questions over their drug pricing strategy earlier this year, causing investors to abandon the firms.

Earlier this year it was revealed the US forks out the most in the world for cancer drugs.

Read more: "Most hated" pharma exec Martin Shkreli arrested

The highest retail prices for a median of 23 cancer drugs were found to be in the US, with the lowest prices in India and South Africa.

The UK ranked third, behind China.

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