Health

Generic, Lower-Cost Version Of EpiPen Will Hit Shelves This Week

Allergy sufferers are finally getting a break on the cost of a critical prescription.

For the estimated 15 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, EpiPens are a life-saving tool. They are similarly invaluable to adults and children who are allergic to bee stings and other insect stings and bites.

In America, this box containing two thingies of adrenaline costs $600.

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However, many people with allergies do not have access to EpiPens. Why? Because they cannot afford the price tag associated with the costly drug. But here is some good news: Finally, there is a generic version of the EpiPen which will be available to consumers. Instead of costing $500 or more, the generic drug will cost $300.

The decision was made after Congress pressured Mylan (the owner of EpiPen brand) to offer a lower-cost option. Mylan came under severe criticism when they increased the cost of EpiPen by more than 400 percent. (The drug used to cost $100.)

Jack Miller, 10, holds a two-pack of his EpiPen #prescription. He has a severe tree nut allergy, and has to keep an EpiPen with him at home, school and in the car at all times. His brother also has severe allergies. His family spends thousands each year to keep multiple packs of EpiPens on hand. Recent nationwide news coverage has focused on the rising cost of #EpiPens, which counteract potentially fatal allergic reactions to peanuts, bee stings and other triggers. But the $600 cost for a two-pack of that medicine is just one example of lifesaving drugs with skyrocketing prices. The costs of seven widely prescribed antibiotics, cancer drugs, arthritis medications and other prescriptions have escalated between 29 percent and 5,241 percent in recent years, according to a joint investigation by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Health News and Wisconsin Public Radio. Read our joint investigation on skyrocketing prescription drugs using the link in our bio. Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. ? ? ? #journalism #wisconsin #drugs #investigation

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While the generic offering is good news, there are still some who say that Mylan got off easy. Senator Elizabeth Warren said that the settlement was “shamefully weak,” and other critics say that the generic drug is hiding a massive price hike. After all, naysayers point out, the drug used to cost $100 just a few years ago. How are lower-income families meant to afford medication that is more than their grocery bill?

Still, criticism aside, the generic offering of EpiPen is huge news. Every three minutes, someone goes to the emergency room as a result of a food allergy. And, as the number of people with food allergies in this country increases, access to life-saving EpiPens has never been more important.

The generic verison of EpiPen is expected to hit pharmacy shelves this week. A two-pack of the pens will cost patients $300 before insurance.

Here’s hoping that everyone who needs this crucial medication will be able to afford this new lower-priced option. For those with severe allergies, this medication is a necessity, not a luxury.

Luckily, for those for whom $300 is still too high, there may still be further relief on the horizon. Pharmaceutical company Kaleo recently announced that they would be launching a lower-priced competitor to the EpiPen called Auvi-Q in 2017.

[h/t: Consumerist]