EpiPen maker set to defend prices amid public outcry

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of pharmaceutical company Mylan is defending the cost for life-saving EpiPens, signaling the company has no plans to lower prices despite a public outcry and questions from skeptical lawmakers.

In prepared testimony for Congress, CEO Heather Bresch says she believes Mylan has struck a balance between price and access to the drug. The price of EpiPens has grown to $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007.

Bresch says the company does not want to go back to a time when awareness of allergic reactions was much lower and many schools did not stock the drug.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the testimony ahead of her Wednesday appearance before the panel.

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  • Buzzell Gordon

    Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to the EpiPen, we recently recommended generic Adrenaclick, also referred to as an “epinephrine auto-injector.” Using a GoodRx coupon, you could get it for as low as $140 at Walmart or $205 at Rite-Aid. You might have heard its hard to get, but here’s how to procure it.
    Ask Your Doctor for an Epinephrine Auto-Injector Prescription

    In most states, to get the low-cost, EpiPen alternative, you can’t use a prescription for “EpiPen” from your doctor. That’s because pharmacists at your drugstore likely won’t be able to automatically substitute the low-cost version if your prescription is written for EpiPen. Instead, ask your doctor to write a prescription for an “epinephrine auto-injector” or “generic Adrenaclick.”

    That’s what Adrienne Balkany of Austin, Texas, did after her out-of-pocket cost for EpiPen shot up to $400 two years ago. Balkany carries emergency epinephrine due to a severe allergy to bee stings. Seeking an alternative to EpiPen, she came across a mention of generic Adrenaclick online, and after finding that she’d only have a $60 co-pay after insurance, her doctor eventually switched her prescription to the generic. But doing so required some persistence on her part and several discussions with her doctor, says Balkany. “The hardest part of switching was convincing my doctor to write the prescription because he had never heard of the drug.”

    Since Mylan purchased EpiPen in 2007, it poured billions of dollars into a robust marketing campaign aimed at making EpiPen a household name. Last year, doctors wrote 3.6 million prescriptions for EpiPen and EpiPen Jr, according to healthcare data company IMS Health—7 percent more than in 2014. Given EpiPen’s reputation as the leading treatment for life-threatening anaphylaxis, coupled with last year’s recall of its main competitor, Auvi Q, and the otherwise low profile of alternative options, skepticism about non-EpiPen auto-injectors from consumers and doctors alike is not all that surprising. But while EpiPen and generic Adrenaclick are not the same device or delivery system, they both contain the drug epinephrine in the same dosage.