Until the recent launch of the generic EpiPen, the only affordable competitor available to the emergency allergy treatment was Adrenaclick, but that drug was hard to find and some pharmacies charged nearly as much as they did for EpiPen. Now CVS says it is selling two-packs of an authorized generic of Adrenaclick at about one-sixth of the price tag for brand-name EpiPen.
CVS has put a price of $110 for a twin-pack of this generic epinephrine auto-injector. That’s significantly lower than the sticker price for EpiPen, which is now well above $600 for two injectors. Even the recently released authorized generic of EpiPen is $300/twin-pack, nearly three times the cost of the generic version of Adrenaclick being sold by CVS.
If you currently have a prescription for EpiPen, you’ll need to talk to your physician to make sure this generic is right for your needs. Additionally, doctors who want their patients to have access to the generic would need to write the prescription for just an “epinephrine auto-injector” instead of naming a particular brand.
CVS says patients who already have an EpiPen prescription on file with the drugstore chain can ask their pharmacist to check with their physician to see if it’s okay to switch to the generic.
The CVS announcement comes a day after one of the nation’s largest insurers, announced it would no longer cover the full-price EpiPen, but only the lower-cost generic version of the drug that was released in December.
EpiPen maker Mylan came under intense scrutiny in 2016 amid complaints about the soaring cost of the drug, which had increased in price by some 600% since Mylan acquired the brand nearly a decade earlier.
In addition to having Congress repeatedly question just how much profit Mylan was making from the potentially life-saving injectors, the company was also caught overcharging Medicaid by putting the drug in the same category as generics with multiple competitors, when in fact EpiPen controlled nearly the entire market.
Before Medicaid officials could sort out exactly how much the government had been overcharged, the Justice Department reached a $465 million settlement with Mylan. This deal was heavily criticized as “shamefully weak” by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others, who lambasted the DOJ for not only allowing Mylan to avoid admitting liability, but for allowing letting Mylan take the $465 million as a pre-tax payment, meaning the penalty actually reduces Mylan’s tax bill.