CVS offers generic epinephrine injector at 'market-best' price; Cigna drops EpiPen

Insurer Cigna said Wednesday it has stopped covering the brand name EpiPen injector, the cost of which has spiked 400 percent since 2009.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Jan. 12, 2017 at 2:53 PM
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WOONSOCKET, R.I., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- CVS pharmacies have made available a less-expensive generic epinephrine autoinjector for patients with life-threatening allergies -- an alternative to the more costly EpiPen from Mylan, the chain said Thursday.

The Adrenaclick injector is now available at CVS locations nationwide for the cash price of $110 for a two-pack, the company said.

CVS' move to introduce an alternative comes at a time when Mylan is under heavy scrutiny for consistent increases in the cost of its EpiPen over the last several years. The cost of the autoinjector has risen about 400 percent since 2009 -- which has directed heavy fire toward Mylan for hiking the price on a product people need to stay alive.

"We recognized the urgent need for a less-expensive epinephrine auto-injector," CVS said in a news release Thursday. "This authorized generic is a Food and Drug Administration-approved device with the same active ingredient as other epinephrine auto-injector devices."

CVS said it sells the Adrenaclick, from Amedra Pharmaceuticals, for the lowest price on the market.

The cost of Mylan's name brand product has gotten so high that insurer Cigna will no longer cover the EpiPen, as of Jan. 7.

Mylan Inc. CEO Heather Bresch holds up an EpiPen two-pack as she testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Sept. 21, 2016. The committee investigated the skyrocketing price of the life-saving allergy drug, which rose 400 percent between 2009 and 2016. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

"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," Cigna spokeswoman Karen Eldred said.

Company CEO Heather Bresch told Congress in September that each EpiPen costs Mylan around $35, but the list price for a two-pack last year was more than $600. It sold for less than $100 when it was introduced in 2009.

Mylan introduced a semi-generic version of the EpiPen as a result of the controversy and began offering discount coupons to bring the brand version's price down. The company said it predicted the cessation of coverage when it began selling its generic version.

Epinephrine injectors are used in emergency treatment situations, mostly for people with anaphylaxis -- a rapid onset allergy condition in which can cause the tongue to swell, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure. The autoinjectors deliver measured doses of epinephrine to counter the allergic effects. A person can die if the treatment is not received in minutes.

President-elect Donald Trump promised at a news conference Wednesday to fight rising drug prices, saying that some pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder." Wall Street, sensing he may have directed that comment in Mylan's direction, sent shares of the company down more than 4 percent.

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