The price of the EpiPen is not the real issue.
Frankly I don’t know what the fair price is for an EpiPen or how the owner of the patent on the pen justifies its price, but I do know the political left and a friendly press are making hay out of the story and once again misleading people. Perhaps there is a need to distract Americans from premium increases in Obamacare. 🤑
I do know government action or inaction has a role to play in all this; think FDA. Think the route to generics, think pharmacy advertising and regulation and government mandates.
For the full story of the growth of EpiPen and the role government plays, take a look here.
I also know most people do not pay the full cost, rather they pay their Rx co-pay (but their plan pays the higher price which is reflected in premiums). The AWP (average wholesale price) is $730.00 (a benchmark, but an amount nobody actually pays). A typical pharmacy pays about $580 wholesale), a bit less for large chains but then chains also receive rebates from the manufacturer based on sales. Rebates are also paid to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) all or some of which are passed on to employers or patients (employees in their premiums). The government has a role in rebates too.
In Europe the pen is reported to cost about $80, but you know what, they get those prices because American prices are not regulated and if they were there are wide consequences for everyone. To some extent we are subsidizing the rest of the world. The price would not be $80 for the whole world. But there are options if you want them. Here is what I found from an online pharmacy:
In this political environment and with the misinformation which abounds about health care, the company made a stupid move that will come back to haunt the industry. Just witness the latest proposal from Clinton.
We are singing the same old song; when it comes to health care spending, no amount of our own money is affordable.
Look at the story below, the price was okay as long as someone else was paying the bulk of the cost. That $600 they mention is more the result of their high deductible plan. This family was shocked at the price of the pen. I bet they would be shocked at the price of other drugs and health care services too, at least until they meet their family deductible.
And have the Henegars factored in the lower monthly premiums they pay because they have a high-deductible plan? Pay now or pay later.
They have to replace the injectors every year when they expire. The Henegars remember paying as little as $80 for them five or six years ago before they switched to a high-deductible health plan.
“We really noticed it in the past year, year and a half when we went to go have it filled. It was $600,” Lexi said.
“When the pharmacist first told you the bill, did you think ‘You must be wrong?'” Nair asked.
“I did. I had her look it up again and she didn’t have to because she had answered that question many times with many other people who asked her the same question of, ‘Are you sure that the EpiPen is that expensive — and it is,” Lexi said.
In 2009, pharmacies paid slightly more than $100 for a 2-pack of EpiPens. The price has since skyrocketed to more than $600. SOURCE: CBS Morning Report
I am not trying to justify the actions of this company, but to point out there are many factors in play including government bureaucracy and also that reporting on this story by the press can be incomplete and misleading. Consider this from a Washington Post Story:
But in 2007, Mylan pharmaceutical company won a near-monopoly on the device. The company used its new power to raise the price of EpiPens by more than 400 percent in recent years. Because it could. Now many families will have to make huge sacrifices to scrounge up more than $500 every year. (They expire.) And some children will have to go back to school without this medication because their families can’t afford it. That is unconscionable.
“Huge sacrifice.” Why is the $500 a year for the pen any different than $500 for some other expense, because it’s health care related? Is the EpiPen any different than a $500 trip to the ER for people with a high-deductible plan? My daughter just paid $250 for a short office visit.
“Families can’t afford it?” What families? Poor families have coverage, most Americans have or should have insurance. What can you think of that families spend $10 a week on that should come after the needed EpiPen? The average American spends $700 a year on the lottery, skewed toward lower-income people. The cost of a dog is between $1300 and $1800 a year and what about smoking or daily designer coffee, etc., etc.
Perhaps the EpiPen should cost less than it does, but the political hype and press hysteria is uncalled for and designed only to reinforce the notion that nobody should be forced to spend their own money on health care; any health care, any amount of money.
Note: Mylan has announced its intent to sell a generic version of its own product. If so this all may have been a grand marketing ploy. With a generic eventually on the way from competitors, better to get patient focused on Mylan product generic or brand.