You may recall the outrage that accompanied Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s announcement, last year, to increase the price of the life-saving intervention EpiPen at an astronomical rate. Well, apparently, that was a tactic employed in anticipation of what has happened this week: the very same Mylan CEO has announced that the company has authorized a generic version, which will be available in pharmacies next week.

Bresch explains, “Every day, escalating out-of-pocket costs impact a new patient population; however, this broader systemic issue will not be solved in a meaningful and sustainable way by our industry’s one-off, reactive responses.”

This generic version will be available for $300.

Bresch goes on to say, “That is why it is critical that all industry participants and government leaders come together to seize the opportunity to make fundamental changes to the system to ensure access to medicine.”
As many are quite intimately aware, high-deductible medical insurance plans are on the rise and that leaves patients vulnerable to higher payments even for life saving interventions like insulin or the EpiPen, which is important to those who suffer life-threatening allergic reactions (particularly food allergies, like peanuts). \

It was only a few months ago, in August, when industry critics and consumers alike loudly criticized Mylan for raising the price of the original, branded EpiPen from a reasonable $93.88 to the somewhat unforgivable $608.61, a gradual markup over the last ten years. While the move, alone, was controversy enough, many patients suddenly found themselves on the hook for significantly higher costs that they simply were not prepared to pay.

While she staunchly defended the massive price increase as, perhaps, a strategy to stay ahead of generic options, Bresch is now saying, “EpiPen had to be the catalyst to show this window into what hardworking families are facing in the rapid rise of high-deductible plan.”

Authorized generics are important because they are, essentially, a way for corporate drug makers to stay alive when their proprietary patent wears out, allowing for generics to start flooding the market. This authorized generic, then, is Mylan’s way of [attempting] to hold on to their isolated customer base, a base they are widely at risk to lose as more and more generic versions become available.

Although this is somewhat common practice, this particular situation is unusual because Mylan is releasing this generic before any other generic’s have launched.