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article imageWhy has the cost of EpiPens increased for consumers?

By Tim Sandle     Jul 3, 2016 in Health
Epipens, used by those who suffer from allergies and anaphylaxis have significantly risen in cost over the past year. Pharmacists are putting this down to a lack of competition.
The Epipen (note the lower case “p” for the generic name) is an abbreviation for “epinephrine autoinjector,” and it is a medical device designed for injecting a measured dose or doses of epinephrine (adrenaline) by means of autoinjector technology. The basis of the device is on a design by the U.S. military for treating exposure to nerve agents.
The design was taken up by several pharmaceutical companies, and the base product trades under several different names: EpiPen, Emerade, Twinject, Adrenaclick, Anapen, Jext, Allerject, and Auvi-Q. The original device, according to a tweet from Gene Quinn (@ipwatchdog), is 50 years old.
Of this the market is dominated by “EpiPen” (with the capital “P”.) This version of the device is manufactured by the company Mylan. Mylan is a global generic and specialty pharmaceuticals company registered in the Netherlands.
According to Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, Mylan has been embarking on an across the board price increase for all its products. This has led to a 15 percent price increase for EpiPen.
Local pharmacists in the U.S. are now reporting that the injectable form of EpiPen has risen in price by $170, leading to the retail price becoming $550 for a single order.
The reason for this has been put down to market monopolization. There are two reasons for this. First, the main rival to the EpiPen, the Auvi-Q, has been withdrawn by its manufacturer Sanofi from the market.
The second is brand identity and the closeness between the generic term for the drug device “epipen” and the branded product “EpiPen.” This means, according to Don Bukstein, who is an Allergist at Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center: “EpiPen is like Kleenex. Doctors write [prescribe] EpiPen. There was some competition in the field and then one of the devices went off the market.”
This has led pharmacists to complain that the price increase is unwarranted and it is distorting the health market. Mylan has responded by saying it does not set retail prices and that the company produces information to help reduce their exposure to allergies, thereby helping to reduce the need for the device.
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