Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.
The company says the generic will hit the market in a few weeks and cost $300 for a two-pack. That’s less than half the price of a two-pack of brand-name EpiPens, which are available at Target pharmacies for about $630, according to GoodRX.
The move by Mylan comes in response to mounting pressure from consumers and Congress to lower the drug’s price. In less than 10 years, the price for a two-pack of injectors has risen from about $100 to more than $600.
“This helps Mylan with its public relations battle against criticism for sharp price increases on the EpiPen,” says Larry Levitt, a health policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The introduction of a lower-priced generic version may keep competitors out of the market.”
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch has spent the past week trying to shift blame for the increased cost of the product away from Mylan and onto insurance companies. The company argued that more people have high-deductible health plans and high copayments on medications now, so they are feeling the pain of price hikes more than they would have in the past.
She repeated that Monday in a statement posted on the company’s website.
“Because of the complexity and opaqueness of today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high deductible health plans, we determined that bypassing the brand system in this case and offering an additional alternative was the best option,” the statement read.
But lawmakers and consumers didn’t buy it. The anger over the price increases was directed solely at Mylan.
“The weirdness of a generic drug company offering a generic version of its own branded but off-patent product is a signal that something is wrong,” Robert Weissman, president of the consumer group Public Citizen, wrote in a piece published Monday by Huffington Post. “Mylan knows its $600 per set of EpiPens is unsustainable, but aims to continue ripping off some segment …