“You have options.”
For most, this statement doesn’t trigger a rush of emotion. For patients who are looking at life-saving and costly medicine, however, it can be the best three-word sentence in the world.
EpiPen combines epinephrine, naturally occurring anti-inflammatory hormone used
for fighting symptoms of anaphylaxis, with a mechanical injector. For people who suffer from severe allergies, EpiPen is, a literal lifesaver.
EpiPen is protected under a patent. This patent prevents competitors from producing a product that combines the epinephrine with a mechanical self-injector.
For many years, this patent wasn’t a problem. Most popular medications enjoy years of market monopolies before a patent expires and competitors can file requests with the FDA to produce generic versions.
EpiPen rose to controversy last summer when the product’s price skyrocketed, leaving many people who rely on their EpiPen in the dust.
Just how much did the pre-insurance price increase? In 2007, the average EpiPen sold for $57. Although the price had risen steadily since then, it was still within the range of affordability. Last Summer, Mylan hiked the price of the drug to a staggering $500, on average per injector, pre-insurance.
This hike prompted outrage among patients, the medical community and legislators, forcing Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, to testify before the United States House of Representatives.
In her testimony, Bresch defended the price hike, calling it fair.
Opening the Floodgates to Generics
The PR backlash which followed Mylan’s seemingly-random price hike, and Bresch’s brazen testimony was swift and brutal. Mylan’s stock dropped massively (It has continued to spiral downward, dropping 2.9% in Q1 of 2017). December of 2016 saw Mylan take the first reparative action toward their fractured brand reputation. Mylan announced in a press release (link), that they had launched the first generic epinephrine auto-injector for authorized release. While a bit less expensive than EpiPen, the price of Mylan’s authorized generic was still near the upper end of many patients’ budgets, resulting in underwhelming sales.
Having opened up their patent for generic competition, Mylan may have helped reverse the negative press surrounding their brand. They also allowed pharmacy chain CVS to produce their own epinephrine auto-injector.
Branding their product as Adrenaclick, CVS put their product on the shelves in late 2016 for around $225 pre-insurance. At this price, CVS was able to undercut the EpiPen while maintaining a high-enough profit margin to continue producing the device.
In January of 2017, CVS lowered the price of Adrenaclick from a national average of $225 per injector, pre-insurance to $109.99 for a two-pack. For reference, the EpiPen still costs
an average of $600 for a similar two-pack at the time of this blog’s publication.
Auvi-Q has also enjoyed a resurgence in the auto-injector market. However, this brand has bypassed the typical pharmacy with the company directly mailing the medication to the patient’s home. Discuss your options with your physician.
How Do they Compare?
A music box is also much cheaper than a record player. What’s really important is how the products compare, and if choosing the less expensive option equates to less reliability or potency in the drug/injector it’s not a good decision to buy it.
Good news – they work pretty much the same!
Epinephrine, found inside EpiPen, is also the active ingredient in Adrenaclick. Furthermore, although the mechanics are slightly different, the injector works almost exactly the same way as the EpiPen, firing a spring-loaded needle into the leg to administer this life-saving steroid.
Both EpiPen and Adrenaclick are covered by many insurance programs, and both are available in similar perspective capacities.
As consumers, it’s great to have options. That’s even more true when these options are for a life-saving product like EpiPen.
If you have any questions about administration or prescription of epinephrine, or are interested in getting tested to see if you should be carrying a product like the EpiPen or Adrenaclick, contact us today!