Many parents can now breathe a sigh of relief because CVS, the second-largest pharmacy in the country, announced that it is offering an authorized generic version of EpiPen called Adrenaclick for a sixth of the cost of the name-brand injector.
During the EpiPen fiasco that reached a fever pitch in August 2016, millions of people actively called for an alternative to the outrageously priced life-saving drug.
Parents of kids suffering from life-threatening allergic reactions, or anaphylactic shock, expressed their outrage after hearing that Mylan, the pharmaceutical company behind EpiPen, increased the drug's price to more than $600 for a two-pack in the U.S. for those without insurance. This is a 500 percent hike from 2009, when the drug was $100 for a two-pack. After the outrage last year, Mylan launched a cheaper, generic version for $300 for a two-pack.
The total cost can be astronomical, when you consider that EpiPens should be replaced every 12 to 18 months and parents need multiple injectors.
As dad and Mom.me contributor Josh Adler, whose kid has a severe peanut allergy, wrote, "I hope you realize that we don’t need to just have ONE EpiPen. We need many. My wife has one on her at all times. I have one on me at all times. We have one at home at all times. My wife’s parents have one at their home. We need to have one at his elementary school and one at his after-school care."
Adrenaclick, made by Impax Laboratories, is sold for a cash price of $109.99 for a two-pack (this is before potential discounts and rebates offered through Impax's patient assistant programs).
“We recognized the urgent need for a less-expensive epinephrine auto-injector, and are proud to offer a low-cost option at all CVS Pharmacy locations,” CVS said in a statement. The company will be offering Adrenaclick at “the lowest cash price in the market.”
Even the insurance company Cigna has announced it will turn toward Mylan's rivals.
Now that's what we call karma for the pharma.
"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 in a statement.
But parents should carefully read instructions and know how to use Adrenaclick before leaving the pharmacy and consider scheduling a training session as well. That's because, according to Consumer Reports, Adrenaclick and EpiPen both contain the same drug in the same dosage, but they don't use the same technology. Incorrect usage could delay treatment or cause injury in an emergency.