Outrageous cost of EpiPens finally getting some attention

Wow. Talk about timing.

I just posted a few weeks ago about my dread of renewing my EpiPen prescription because of its cost—over $700 without insurance, and still over $600 with my insurance!

It seems other healthcare advocates, the media, Congress and even the presidential nominees are at last realizing how insane it is to charge that much for literally a few cents worth of epinephrine.

EpiPens are not even new to the market, like so many other high-priced drugs. It’s been around for a long time, so Mylan pharmaceuticals can’t claim it’s trying to recoup R&D costs. In fact, the design for EpiPens’ auto-injector was actually developed by the US military, using tax payer dollars!

Mylan bought the company that manufactures EpiPens in 2007, when a single injector cost $57. Now a 2-pack, as I mentioned, can cost over $700.

Considering how much negative publicity Turing Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli received when they hiked the price of Daraprim from $13 to over $700, it’s about time Mylan got its share of bad press.

Here’s a sample of the many stories I’ve read on this topic in just the last week or so:

By the way, I was able to get a generic version of the EpiPen (yes, one exists!) that is manufactured by Lineage Therapeutics. Because it was a preferred drug on my insurance company’s PBM (pharmacy benefits manager), it only cost $100.

However, without insurance, even this generic 2-pack would have cost over $600, which is still outrageous.

There is another option in the pipeline. Manufactured by Adamis Pharmaceuticals, it’s a prefilled syringe (PFS) rather than the auto-injector. Will it be as easy to use? I’m not sure. Will it be cheaper? A little. A representative for the company told me it would be 40% cheaper. That’s helpful, but 60% of $700 is still over $400. And because of delays in the FDA approval process, it won’t be available until at least mid to late 2017.

As I advised in my prior post on EpiPens, talk to your physician, your insurance company, and your pharmacist about your options. I only found out about the cheaper generic epinephrine auto-inject by asking my pharmacist a lot of questions and encouraging her to do some research in her drug database.

I will be interested to see if all this attention on Mylan and its EpiPens has any effect on cost or, like Turing Pharmaceuticals and Daraprim, the company thumbs its nose at the public and keeps the price high.

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

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