Controversy concerning Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that is well known for their production of EpiPens, grows as a result of the company announcing their plan to manufacture a generic brand of their product. EpiPens are auto injectors that contain epinephrine which can reverse symptoms of severe allergic reactions. On Monday, Mylan announced that an identical version of their EpiPen would be manufactured for a wholesale price of $300 per two pack, which is half as expensive as the original product. Although epinephrine is a generic drug itself, the challenge is creating an effective and safe way to transport the substance into the body in the event of an emergency. Other companies have failed at producing a successful auto injector, but the demand for the product is still high, enabling the supplier, Mylan, to inflate the price.
The company has recently explained that its plan to take steps toward creating financial assistance for insured and uninsured patients. Despite Mylan’s attempt to aid their customers, outrage in the consumer community is evident. Different consumer advocacy groups are taking it upon themselves to deliver 600,000 signatures to the company’s headquarters in Canonsburg, PA in petition of Mylan’s drug prices. Other actions being taken against the pharmaceutical company include an investigation started by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
So whats the big deal? Even at the generic price of $300, Mylan’s prices will have tripled since 2007. This pharmaceutical company is selling identical products with different labels, enabling it to have no competitors outside of itself. Mylan’s profit is assumed to be vast considering that manufacturing costs are believed to be far less than what the business is charging for the product.
Traditionally, companies create generic versions of their products to compete with an outside generic competitor. Yet, Mylan does not face any immediate threats of competing companies. When asked to comment on the creation and cost of the generic product, Robert Weissman, president of the consumer group Public Citizen explained that, “The weirdness of a generic drug company offering a generic version of its own branded but off-patent product is a signal that something is wrong.” He further adds, “In short, today’s announcement is just one more convoluted mechanism to avoid plain talk, admit to price gouging and just cut the price of EpiPen.”
Mylan proposed that this change came about due to a deal with its manufacturer: Pfizer. Furthermore, Adam J. Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, explains that had the company just lowered the price, many parties that aid in dispersing the product to retailers, and profit small margins from what is spent on the drug, would be displeased. Creating a generic, “is a way to do it without making enemies with a bunch of Fortune 25 companies who control your fate,” he said.
The original story was written by Andrew Pollack and can be found in the New York Times.