Mylan Launches New Generic EpiPen but It's Still Not a Great Deal for Consumers

One day after being named in a lawsuit by 20 U.S. states over generic drug prices, Mylan announced Friday the launch of a generic version of the anti-allergy EpiPen. But critics of the company pointed out several things that make the generic EpiPen almost as bad of a deal as the overpriced brand-name version.

The new version, which will be in stores next week, will include two EpiPens and cost $300. The company had made international headlines when its CEO was called to testify before Congress when the price of a two-pack jumped from around $100, the cost of the drug when Mylan acquired it in 2007, to over $600 in 2016. 

The pharmaceutical company responded to the controversy in August by increasing the amount of co-pay coupons it gave customers while vowing to introduce a generic and less expensive type of the life-saving allergy injection within a few weeks. The launch was eventually announced for early December.

While the new pen is half as expensive as the old one, it's still substantially more expensive now than it was in 2007.

Moreover, there appears to be no difference between Mylan's generic formulary and the brand name one. As the Wall Street Journal points out, the generic "has the same drug formulation and device functionality as the original drug—a product that has been on the market for nearly 30 years—and is administered the same way." The only appreciable difference might be the color of the packaging.

It's not clear why, rather than wait months to sell a cheaper generic drug, Mylan couldn't simply work to lower the costs of producing, shipping, and marketing the branded drug.

But what is clear is that due to classifying the drug as generic, Mylan will be able to directly market it to pharmacies rather than go through a complex supply chain. This means that while the drug will be cheaper, Mylan's costs will be lower as well. The company might make as much as 10 percent more on each pen it sells.

All the while, consumers who choose to by the pen from the company will still be paying more for the drug than before - just not as much more.