EpiPen Monopoly Attack on Children

Epinephreine Structure

The generic epinephrine is less than $1 per dose.

Despite significant profit growth the world’s leading manufacturer of a lifesaving delivery system for anaphylactic shock has continued to raise prices.  EpiPen is a popular epinephrine auto-injectable that can potentially avert fatal allergic reactions in sufferers during emergencies.

According to the Mylan website, the multinational distributor of EpiPen, the driving factor behind a whopping $650 million gain was attributed to the strong sales of their lifesaving allergy drug.  The average retail price has climbed to over $600 per kit for buyers without insurance on TrueMedCost.com while Mylan has recorded a gross profit of over $2 billion during the second and third quarters of 2016 according to a press release.  One kit includes two, 0.3 mg doses of epinephrine and a special injector while the generic compound sells for a meager $10 per mg.  Syringes are sold separately and it can be cumbersome to use generic epinephrine without special training.

The mobility of the EpiPen has made it particularly attractive to allergy patients that might struggle to deliver an immediate and exact dosage, but recent price hikes have revealed agonizingly few alternatives to the product.  CVS is a leading retailer of EpiPen in the United States and divulged that cheaper generic drugs lagged far behind the leading brand in sales through their site.  (The data also shows that the majority of consumers are under the age of twenty.)  Mylan has leveraged this advantageous market position to a devastating effect that has sent shockwaves throughout the pharmaceutical industry and even drawn the ire of politicians around the world.

Talk of yet another pharmaceutical monopoly will likely reverberate within the chambers of the United States Congress.  Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) made a public inquiry to Mylan CEO Heather Branch on August 22, 2016 regarding the uptick in EpiPen costs for Medicare recipients.  Most of the public remember the debacle of former CEO Martin Shkreli smugly and frequently invoking his Fifth Amendment rights when questioned by the House of Representatives in February of this year.

wadg0hz

Mr. Martin Shkreli doesn’t appear to feel remorse at a Congressional Hearing in February.

Mr. Shkreli is still infamous in an internet meme as Pharma Bro for suddenly raising the price of a rarely effective treatment for life threatening diseases like malaria and AIDS.   Senator Grassley could be onto a trend.

If it feels like big drug companies have a knack for putting pressure on the most dependent and vulnerable, you aren’t alone.  Congress enacted laws to amend the Public Health Service Act in 2013 to increase access to epinephrine in schools due to concerns over American children.  Despite that fact one of the easiest delivery methods of the active compound is proprietary, and Mylan still hasn’t given their best customers much relief.  $100 coupons are offered as a manufacturer rebate for people getting pinched but individuals that might use the shots frequently are very worried.  In a world where allergies are increasing in number and severity, price hikes can have consequences that hit all of us suddenly.  The sensation is rooted in the belief that corporations like Mylan might be too focused on their investors at the expense of the little people.

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