On the heels of great criticism, pharmaceutical company giant Mylan made sure to announce it expects for the generic release of its popular brand-name EpiPen product to eventually account for at least 85 percent of all auto-injector anti-allergic reaction injector devices. More importantly, they report that could possible save patients—and the healthcare system—more than $1 billion.
The company made the projection in a seven-page letter delivered to US Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who had recently inquired over the rationale behind the astronomical rise in the retail price of the EpiPen brand devices: now exceeding $600 for a pack of two, a markup of more than 400 percent.
In response, Mylan said that the price hikes was due to the generic version costing only $300, or half the price of the licensed version.
In addition, Mylan spokesman Nina Devlin, reports that this is the first time the company had ever revealed an inside projection of market size for a generic drug.
EpiPens, of course, work by directly injecting epinephrine into the body as a means to counteract potentially fatal allergic reaction—a condition called anaphylaxis.
On Thursday, Grassley responded to Mylan’s letter: “I appreciate the information provided but it’s an incomplete response and wouldn’t satisfy my constituents who are upset about the EpiPen price increases. It doesn’t provide the full picture that I requested, and it doesn’t answer all of my questions.”
Indeed, while this is certainly an explanation, it does not address the ins and outs of the move.
He goes on to say, “There isn’t much discussion of what analyses went into the price-setting in response to my question. There also isn’t much of a description of the product features and value that the company says have helped to justify the price increases.”
Grassley points out that there is no explanation which can justify any price jump of this interval; after all, when Mylan purchased the drug in 2007, it only cost $57 per dose.
Finally, Grassley concludes, “The company say a large number of patients have benefited from patient assistance programs but the outrage Congress is hearing seems to indicate that a lot of people aren’t seeing those benefits. It may be that the newly announced expanded patient assistance program will make a difference, but that’s to be determined. Consumers.”
Mylan attempts to point out that the increase in price comes from their own investment in educating the public and creating more awareness for the product, and brand. They also remind that, at one point, they teamed up with patient advocacy groups to distribute more than 700,000 EpiPens free of charge across the US (at a value of approximately $80 million).