Advantages for Consumers — and Mylan — With Its Generic EpiPen

EpiPen manufacturer Mylan, whose company slogan is “Seeing is believing,” announced on Monday, August 29, 2016 that within the next several weeks it will be launching a generic version of the auto-injecting epinephrine device.

Mylan explained that the generic version of its EpiPens will be identical to the original version, sold in twin-packs, but with different labeling, at a cost of $300. The only other important difference is that for the majority of sales of the generic auto-injecter will take place directly between the consumer and Mylan.

In the aftermath of the public furor over the cost increase in the EpiPen to slightly over $600 the previous week, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch had attempted to justify the price increase by explaining how much profit the pharmaceutical company loses by having to go through so many middlemen in the retail market.

Mylan’s stated profit from each $600 EpiPen twin-packs is “only” $274 even though the epinephrine contained in each auto-injecter has a cost of about $1, with the injecter portion costing the company an equally low price. With the generic version of the EpiPen to be $300, but bypassing the entire retail market, Mylan looks to make slightly more profit on the generic version than the branded version.

How Will Mylan’s Generic Version of the EpiPen Affect Consumers?

For those people without health insurance, the generic EpiPen will offer a definite cost-savings. Those who need the EpiPens for themselves or family members and have health insurance coverage likely won’t see much, if any savings in the cost of the generic EpiPen, but they will no longer need to bother with requesting, receiving and using the $300 coupon Mylan announced last week that it would make available to people with high deductibles.

Although users of the EpiPen may not enjoy a cost-savings with the generic epinephrine auto-injecter, they will have the choice of whether to continue with the branded version through their traditional retail outlets with the use of the $300 savings coupon or deal directly with Mylan for the generic version. What is unclear at this stage is whether Mylan will discontinue offering the $300 coupons once their generic EpiPen is available; consumers will have to wait and see.

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