CVS Cuts the Cost of Epinephrine Injectors

CVS now carries a cheaper alternative to Mylan’s EpiPen, an authorized generic brand for Adrenaclick by Impax Laboratories. CVS announced the new generic brand epinephrine injector this month for an affordable cost.

According to CVS.com the generic double-pack is priced at $109.99, which is currently the lowest price for an epinephrine auto-injector device in the market.

EpiPens and the new authorized generic brand of Adrenaclick release an epinephrine injection for someone who goes into anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction. Common allergies that cause anaphylaxis are insect stings and bites and food allergies such as nuts and shellfish.

Those with these life-threatening allergic reactions must keep an auto-injector pen on them at all times and typically have to purchase multiple packs to keep in various locations such as work and school.  

The generic brand of Adrenaclick was released following a dispute over the prices of EpiPens in the pharmaceutical market.  Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that currently owns EpiPen, faced controversy this past year due to their spike in EpiPen prices.

The cost for a two-pack reached up to $600 causing outrage among consumers. Many saw it as unethical because epinephrine injections are life-saving and yet the prices increased at least 500% over approximately 10 years. Higher prices make it difficult for consumers to purchase the EpiPen with or without insurance.

epi-pen
EpiPen image taken from Flickr.com. Photo by Cara.

“When I started in pharmaceuticals, the EpiPen only cost about hundred something dollars and now it costs around $600 while it probably only costs a few bucks to make,” says local CVS Pharmacist Ethylene Cook.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the cost of an EpiPen in 2007 was only $93.88.

Last September Heather Bresch, the chief executive of Mylan, had a congressional hearing where she was questioned about the rising costs of an EpiPen pack. Lawmakers asked Bresch to explain the process behind the pricing of the two-pack for EpiPens and questioned her on the company’s rising salaries.

The congressional hearing also addressed the short shelf life of an EpiPen during the September hearing. The current EpiPen can last up to 18 months causing many users to discard $600 of unused epinephrine injections in the trash. At the hearing, Bresch mentioned that Mylan hopes to increase the shelf life to a minimum 24 months. By increasing the shelf life, Mylan would please many consumers who have had to discard their expensive unused two-packs.

“The current EpiPen we have on our shelf here at CVS says that it expires in February of 2018. So about a little over a year,” explains CVS Pharmacist Ethylene Cook.

Prior to President Trump’s inauguration in January, the subject of drug prices has been a common theme for the president. President Trump has been previously quoted as saying that the pharmaceutical companies  “are getting away with murder” because of their high prices.

The president has made many statements about the drug industry and said how he would like the change the process for pricing drugs. He is now following through with this plan. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, President Trump met with leaders from pharmaceutical companies to discuss regulations and drug prices. The president hopes that he can ease FDA regulations in order to allow drugs to be approved faster for the market. He also would like to bring more drug production to the United States and change the pricing process for what he calls “bidding wars”. President Trump has not announced any specific policies for this change.

Before the launch of the new authorized generic of Adrenaclick this month, Mylan published a press release announcing that they would start offering a generic brand of the EpiPen for “$300 per epinephrine injection USP two-pack, which is more than 50% lower than the WAC [Wholesale Acquisition Cost] of EpiPen 2-Pak® Auto-Injectors”.

The generic brand is currently available for a prescription, but the $300 two-pack still exceeds the price of the new generic brand for Adrenaclick.

The new generic auto-injector at CVS is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved device containing the same active ingredient as Mylan’s EpiPen. At $109.99 the authorized generic for Adrenaclick appeals to consumers for its low cost.

“There is really no difference between EpiPen and the generic brand for Adrenaclick. They have the same mode of administration. The only difference is that the brand EpiPen has a trainer injector while the generic does not,” explains CVS Pharmacist Ethylene Cook.

The need for affordable epinephrine injections puts the injection packs in high demand.  According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 3.6 million people were given a prescription for an EpiPen 2-Pak last year.

For consumers to switch over to the more affordable epinephrine injector, all they need to do is talk to their prescriber to see if the generic of Adrenaclick is a good fit, then to have them write a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.

According to CVS, the generic of Adrenaclick is available to patients both with insurance coverage and patients who pay with cash.  This makes the auto-injector more affordable for the 3.6 million people in need of epinephrine injections for anaphylaxis. 

The authorized generic brand of Adrenaclick is made by Lineage Therapeutics, the pharmaceutical company that CVS negotiated with for the low price.
CVS pharmacist Ethylene Cook says “CVS currently has the cheapest price for the generic brand on the market. We were able to negotiate with Lineage, the maker of the generic, the special price of $109.99 and everywhere you go it will be more expensive than us.”

According to the Lineage Therapeutics website, they strive to “deliver therapeutic options to lower costs, increase patient access to medicines, and improve lives.”

Adrenaclick is not new to the market. According to the Washington Post, the FDA approved it back in 1939. However, the price for an epinephrine auto-injector has not been this low since the early 2000’s. The need for epinephrine injections will continue to be in large numbers for consumers who have allergies to insects and food.

The authorized generic for Adrenaclick, available at CVS, is a step towards a more affordable future for those who need a life-saving injection on them at all times.

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