It has only been about a week since we first got word of the outrageous price hike for the life-saving allergy intervention medicine known simply as Epipen, and already Mylan has made another big move.
With a firestorm of protest after announcing the huge price increase, the company took a few steps back in the right direction by announcing a generic version of the injection pen at the list price of $300 for a pack of two. That now amounts to a 50 percent discount over the new price of the brand name EpiPen; at least, for low- and middle-income patients.
Of course, that still did not do much to quell the vocal distaste.
Under immense scrutiny and criticism, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch comments that this move is a simpler alternative than rolling back the price nearer to its original cost. And the company says that the generic version will be classified in such a way that pharmacists can substitute the chemically identical version for the name brand without having to consult the prescribing physician.
She notes, “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.”
Basically, the argument is that lowering the price, alone, would only reduce costs for consumers. Offering a generic alternative, on the other had, would ensure savings to insurers and federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Because God forbid insurers and government programs should have to pay a little more at the expense of saving lives.
The Mylan Chief Executive goes on to say, “We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of the EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” calling this move “an extraordinary commercial response.”