The pharmaceutical company Mylan holds a virtual monopoly on epinephrine injections. In 2007, the company acquired the EpiPen, an auto-injector that precisely calibrates the dosage of epinephrine, used to treat severe allergic reactions in an emergency situation.
But a two-pack of EpiPens cost about $57 when Mylan acquired the devices. Since then, the price of a pack of EpiPens increased to approximately $500 from around $100 in 2008, a hike of nearly 450 percent, reported NBC News.
After Sanofi voluntarily recalled its auto-injector, Auvi-Q, last year over dosage miscalibrations, Mylan gained full control of the market.
“They did a pretty good job marketing themselves where it’s just like Kleenex,” John Vann, MD, a pediatrician in Omaha, Nebraska, said in the NBC article. “People don’t say ‘epinephrine auto-injector,’ they say ‘EpiPen.’”
In a statement emailed to NBC, Mylan said its prices have “changed over time to better reflect important product features and the value the product provides. We’ve made a significant investment to support the device over the past years.”
Mylan noted that commercially insured patients have used its $100 savings program, with nearly 80 percent getting their EpiPens for no cost. MarketWatch reported that the savings program “enables a free or low co-pay for those with good insurance plans, but barely makes a dent for those with increasingly common high-deductible plans or no insurance.”
The news of the EpiPen’s significant price-hike history was met with criticism alike from doctors and patients, who said they’re outraged at the costly difficulty in obtaining the lifesaving auto-injectors. Some patients are even turning to manual syringes as a cheaper alternative, which can be unsafe because it’s more complicated to administer the correct dosage.
Photo credit: J. David Ake/AP
Investor Mark Cuban tweeted, “…life-saving drugs should be capped and locked to get U.S. approval.”
Filed Under: Drug Discovery