One of the country’s largest retail pharmacies will compete with the maker of a lifesaving medication and device by offering a lower-cost generic version.
CVS Health, which operates 9,600 retail pharmacies and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, announced late last week it will make an ephinephrine autoinjector option available at all its pharmacy locations for a cash price of $109.99 for a two pack. The device quickly administers epinephrine to counter anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
The generic device compares to Mylan’s cash price of $649.99 for the brand-name, two-pack EpiPen and $339.99 for the drug company’s generic version.
Mylan came under fire last year when it hiked the cost of the EpiPen, which 10 years ago cost just $50 a piece. That controversy quickly transitioned into concerns that Mylan had misclassified EpiPens, translating into millions in overpayments. Senators called on the Department of Justice to investigate the misclassification, and in late September, Mylan agreed to a $465 million settlement.
CVS’ version of the EpiPen is the authorized generic for Adrenaclick, which is manufactured by Impax Laboratories.
"As a healthcare company focused on helping people on their path to better health, we recognized that there was an urgent need in the marketplace for a less expensive epinephrine autoinjector for patients with life-threatening allergies," Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy, said in the announcement. “Over the past year, nearly 150,000 people signed on to a petition asking for a lower cost epinephrine autoinjector option and millions more were active in social media searching for a solution.”
The $109.99 price point for the CVS version applies to both insured and cash-paying patients without insurance.
A University of Utah Health Care system has also developed a version of EpiPen that is even cheaper. The $10 kit, however, is not as simple as the autoinjection device, and includes a vial of epinephrine, two needles, alcohol wipes and two syringes. The system expects to save $35,000 a year using the kit.