Generic Epipen: Solution or PR move?

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HARTFORD & MIDDLEFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Epipen controversy got turned up another notch Monday when Mylan, the maker of Epipens, announced it would make a generic version of the allergy reversing drug dispenser available to everyone for $300.  That’s about half the price it was charging at this time last week.

A 300 dollar coupon program has been judged to be ‘too little to late’ for parents rushing to get Epipens in time for back to school.

Related Content: Mylan launching generic version of EpiPen

Two-and-a-half year old Noah Janis of MIddlefield will start at a nut free nursery school in Guilford next week. His mother Carolyn discovered his allergies when she was nursing Noah. She says she had been eating peanut butter sandwiches when Noah developed an eczema on his face.  Medical testing revealed he has severe allergies to all kinds of nuts and eggs.

The Food and Drug Administration says the number of people like Noah has tripled in the past twenty years.

Related Content: The maker of EpiPen responds to outrage over skyrocketing cost

A supply of Epipens is an absolute necessity in their house, and at any and every school Noah will ever attend. Noah will also need Epipens in his home when he grows up.

Carolyn worries the coupons and generic may only be a temporary fix.

“It can help maybe with getting those prescriptions filled that are needed for school, but I think I worry more about the future.”

In order to qualify for the 300 dollar discount coupon, a family of four has to make less than $97,000 dollars per year. Just days after that announcement, the company now says it will make a 300 dollar generic version available to all.

Carolyn believes Mylan, the maker of Epipens, is just trying to fix a public relations disaster.

“If the public opinion and the outcry against Mylan was so strong that they need to come up with something to fix this problem, yeah.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with other members of Congress, say a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the price hikes must proceed quickly.    That the coupons and generic are not enough.  He’s also calling for an investigation into contracts Mylan has with school systems to supply Epipens.   “Somebody who wants this product should not have to overpay simply to fatten the bottom line of Mylan,” said Blumenthal.

Related Content: Parents say they’re being price-gouged on device they need to keep their kids safe

In a statement today the CEO at Mylan says, “The launch of a generic Epipen…will offer a long term solution to further reduce costs and ease the burden.”

But an FTC investigation is not going to be a long term solution for Mylan’s headache over this.   If they find something illegal about the price hikes it could order Mylan to give refunds to thousands of families like Noah’s.

You can read the entire statement from Mylan here.

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