Why Are EpiPens So Expensive – Epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, are life-saving devices used in cases of severe allergic reactions.
They deliver a dose of epinephrine, a hormone that narrows blood vessels and opens airways, and can be the difference between life and death.
However, the cost of EpiPens has increased significantly over the years, making them unaffordable for many people. This article will explore the 11 reasons behind the rising costs of EpiPens, who is responsible for jacking up the price, how to get discounted EpiPens, and if there are any cheaper alternatives.
The Reason Why Are EpiPens So Expensive
The high cost of EpiPens has been a hot topic for several years, with many patients and healthcare professionals wondering why the price of this essential medication has skyrocketed.
Here are the 11 reasons why EpiPens are so expensive and discuss alternative options that may be more affordable for patients.
- Patents: The first reason why EpiPens are so expensive is that they are protected by patents, which give the company that produces them a monopoly. In 2007, the patent for the EpiPen expired, but the company, Mylan, made minor changes to the design and obtained a new patent, effectively extending its monopoly on the product.
- Lack of competition: With a monopoly on the market, Mylan had no incentive to lower prices or innovate. There was no competition, and they could charge whatever they wanted.
- Insurance coverage: Another reason why EpiPens are expensive is that insurance coverage is limited. Many insurance plans have high deductibles or require patients to pay a percentage of the cost of the device. This leaves many people with no choice but to pay the full price out of pocket.
- Marketing and advertising: Mylan spent millions of dollars on marketing and advertising the EpiPen. The company marketed the device as a necessity for anyone with severe allergies and encouraged schools and other organizations to stock them.
- Rebates: Drug manufacturers offer rebates to insurance companies, but these rebates do not always translate into lower prices for consumers. In some cases, insurance companies pocket the rebates and do not pass the savings on to patients.
- Price gouging: In 2016, Mylan came under fire for raising the price of EpiPens by over 500% since it acquired the product in 2007. The company was accused of price gouging and exploiting consumers who needed the life-saving device.
- Manufacturing costs: The manufacturing costs of EpiPens are relatively low, but Mylan claims that the cost of research and development justifies the high price.
- Limited shelf life: EpiPens have a limited shelf life and need to be replaced every 12 to 18 months, which means that patients need to purchase new devices frequently.
- Middlemen: In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many middlemen, including wholesalers and pharmacy benefit managers, who add to the cost of drugs. These middlemen negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and often inflate the prices for consumers.
- Government regulation: The FDA regulates the approval of drugs and medical devices, and this process can be lengthy and expensive. The cost of obtaining FDA approval is passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices.
- Global pricing disparities: EpiPens are much more expensive in the United States than in other countries. In Canada, for example, the cost of EpiPens is less than half of what it is in the United States.
Who Jacked Up The Price of The EpiPen?
The company responsible for jacking up the price of EpiPens is Mylan, a pharmaceutical company that acquired the product in 2007.
In 2016, Mylan came under fire for raising the price of EpiPens by over 500%, from $100 to $600 for a two-pack.
This move sparked outrage among consumers, lawmakers, and medical professionals, who argued that Mylan was taking advantage of patients who relied on the life-saving device.
Mylan’s CEO at the time, Heather Bresch, faced intense scrutiny and criticism for her role in the price hike.
How Can I Get Discounted EpiPens?
Despite the high cost of EpiPens, there are several ways to get discounted or even free devices:
- Manufacturer coupons: Mylan offers coupons that can significantly reduce the cost of EpiPens. Patients can visit Mylan’s website to obtain coupons and find out if they are eligible for additional savings.
- Insurance coverage: Some insurance plans cover the cost of EpiPens, either partially or in full. Patients should check with their insurance provider to see if they are covered.
- Patient assistance programs: Mylan offers patient assistance programs for those who cannot afford EpiPens. These programs provide free or low-cost devices to eligible patients.
- Prescription assistance programs: Many pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations offer prescription assistance programs that can help patients afford their medications. Patients should check with their healthcare provider or do some research online to find available programs.
- Generic alternatives: While there are currently no generic versions of EpiPens available in the United States, there are other epinephrine auto-injectors on the market that are significantly cheaper. Patients should discuss their options with their healthcare provider.
Is There A Cheaper Alternative to EpiPen?
While there are no generic versions of EpiPens available in the United States, there are other epinephrine auto-injectors on the market that are significantly cheaper:
- Adrenaclick: Adrenaclick is a similar auto-injector device that delivers epinephrine. It is available in a generic version and can be significantly cheaper than EpiPens.
- Auvi-Q: Auvi-Q is another epinephrine auto-injector that is smaller and easier to use than EpiPens. It is covered by many insurance plans and has a patient assistance program for those who cannot afford it.
- Symjepi: Symjepi is a new epinephrine auto-injector that was approved by the FDA in 2017. It is significantly cheaper than EpiPens and is available in a two-pack.
The high cost of EpiPens has been a hot topic for several years, with many people wondering why a life-saving device can be so expensive.
This article has explored the 11 reasons behind the rising costs of EpiPens, including patents, lack of competition, insurance coverage, marketing, rebates, price gouging, manufacturing costs, limited shelf life, middlemen, government regulation, and global pricing disparities.
While there are several ways to get discounted EpiPens, including manufacturer coupons, insurance coverage, patient assistance programs, and prescription assistance programs, there are also cheaper alternatives, such as Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, and Symjepi.
It is important for patients to discuss their options with their healthcare provider and find the best solution for their individual needs.