CVS Pharmacy is selling a generic version of Mylan’s EpiPen at a sixth of its price. This news comes just months after the makers behind the life-saving allergy treatment was slammed by Congress for raising its prices.
CVS Health Corp. said they will offer $109.99 for a two-pack of the generic version of Adrenalick, a lesser-known version of EpiPen, which can cost consumers well over $600. In addition, the maker of Adrenalick, Impax Laboratories, offers a coupon program that can offer additional price breaks and incentives, if the patient qualifies for the discounts. The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, according to SCNOW, said that the generic version is now available at all CVS stores across the country. The chain has 9,600 pharmacies in the U.S., including locations inside Target stores.
The major pharmacy retailer “recognized that there was an urgent need in the marketplace for a less expensive epinephrine auto-injector for patients with life-threatening allergies,” according to Helena Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy.
These treatments are often stocked by schools and parents of children who suffer from severe allergies. They are often used in emergencies to stop anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction to insect bites and stings and food allergies to nuts and eggs. Like the EpiPen, the syringes include the hormone epinephrine, and they expire after a year. The reason is to force patients to fill new prescriptions if they never used the old pens.
In addition, health insurance giant Cigna also announced that it will drop its coverage for Mylan’s EpiPens since CVS cut the price in charges for the generic version nearly in half.
“It is positive news for our customers,” Cigna spokesperson Karen Eldred said in a statement to Valley News Live.
“The generic version, available now in pharmacies, has the same drug formulation and device functionality as the branded medication, but at a substantial cost savings.”
The EpiPen was the center of a growing pharmacy drug hike controversy last summer after an NBC News story about parents scrambling to find alternatives or ways to pay the higher prices caused a national uproar. Mylan hiked its prices by over 400 percent for the emergency allergic reaction medication, leaving parents to figure out how to save $607 for a two-pack of syringes. The company has been raising its prices at a rate of over 25 percent each year.
After the backlash, the company offered a $300 coupon for some of its concerned customers, increased patient access programs, and offered a generic version of its own EpiPens at half off on its list price. The story has also been at a center of concern for the government. President-elect Donald Trump made biotech stocks go down 5 percent since his first press conference in six months when he remarked on the higher prices of prescription drugs.
“We have to…create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they’re getting away with murder,” he said.
To get the generic version of the EpiPen, patients must ask their doctor to write a prescription for the “epinephrine auto-injector,” CVS says. Pharmacists can switch the EpiPen prescription for the generic brand by law because it’s not referenced as required by the Food and Drug Administration, reports Quartz.
While the generic version has some slight differences such as a distinct auto-injector needle system, it has the same active ingredient and is included with EpiPen among the therapeutic options for anaphylaxis emergency, as listed by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
“From a safety standpoint and efficacy standpoint, there’s no difference [between the EpiPen and the generic],” Jonathan Spergel, an allergist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Philly.
“It’s exactly the same medicine.”
CVS just fired back at Mylan by offering a cheaper version. There have been mixed reviews since. Some believe that it will cause trouble for patients who rely on the EpiPen, while others think offering a cheaper version is a wonderful thing for the pharmaceutical industry. Hopefully, patients and parents can get access to this version instead of the EpiPen above $600 for a two-pack.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]