Mylan is about to start selling a generic version of its EpiPen injector for $300 per two-pack, under half the cost of the name-brand lifesaving drug, the pharmaceutical company announced Friday.
The move comes after 20 state attorneys general launched a federal lawsuit alleging that Mylan and five other generic drug-makers artificially inflated and manipulated prices to reduce competition for an antibiotic and oral diabetes medication.
Mylan has been offering EpiPen, an emergency allergy treatment, for about $608, up more than 500 percent nine years ago, according to the Elsevier Clinical Solutions' Gold Standard Drug Database. The company came under fire this summer for those price hikes, leading to a congressional inquiry.
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The $300 cost of the new generic EpiPen two-pack is wholesale for Mylan. It works the same way as EpiPen, the company said, and will arrive in pharmacies next week.
Sen. Bernie Sanders took issue with the announcement Friday morning, calling it a "PR move" that doesn't restore the drug to its 2007 prices.
At $300 generic EpiPens will still cost 3 times more than they did in 2007. This isn't a discount. It's a PR move. https://t.co/mHngrVfS62— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 16, 2016
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC in August that lowering the price was not an option, though it also boosted its patient assistance program so that some families wouldn't have to pay out of pocket for the injector.
"Had we reduced the list price, I couldn't ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen gets one," she said.
Connecticut is leading the states' lawsuits over drug pricing. Attorney General George Jepsen, whose office began its investigation more than two years ago into suspicious price increases of certain generic medications, said his staff "developed compelling evidence of collusion and anticompetitive conduct" among many companies that manufacture and market generic drugs.
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Jepsen called Heritage Pharmaceuticals "the principal architect of the conspiracies," but said he had evidence of "widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry."
Both Mylan and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA said they knew of no evidence that they had participated in price fixing. Teva said it "vigorously" denies any allegations of wrongdoing. Aurobindo Pharma USA Inc. declined to comment. The other companies named — Citron Pharma LLC and Mayne Pharma Inc. — didn't return requests for comment Thursday.