Months back, when Mylan, maker of the popular EpiPen announced that the product’s price was going up rather precipitously, people from coast to coast panicked, then began looking for another option. Some tried to go without the life-saving drug. Others looked toward Canadian import companies. This was the status for countless Americans for months, scrambling to find ways to afford a medication that can save lives in the case of a severe allergic reaction. Even after Mylan was pulled in front of Congress and castigated for price gouging, the company refused to offer a compromise or any kind of workable solution for desperate consumers.
Enter CVS. One of the nation’s largest drugstores, CVS recently announced it will begin selling a generic alternative to the EpiPen for much less than the brand-name drug. According to various media reports, the generic two-pack will retail for about $110, a huge discount on the EpiPen, which is going for as much as $600. To accomplish this and offer consumers a better option, CVS cut the price of the generic by half, a move that may force Mylan to do what neither Congress nor national consumer outrage could accomplish: cut the price of its signature product.
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch seemed less than phased and certainly not apologetic when grilled by Congress after the cost of the EpiPen soared 500 percent. Bresch put the blame on insurance companies, pharmacies, and others, insinuating the price hike was unfortunate but unavoidable. This argument has been very popular among drug companies that don’t want to accept responsibility for the rash of recent cost spikes for prescription drugs.Now, market pressure may force Mylan to reconsider its position. This eventuality gives hope to many Americans struggling to afford prescription medications. Spiking costs on most drugs and high spikes on some of the most popular have repeatedly been in the headlines in recent years. While, in just about every case, the pharmaceutical companies blame the insurance industry or other middlemen, the American consumer public isn’t buying. They point out the drastically lower prices in international markets, especially neighboring Canada.
And there’s another force about to enter the fray. President Donald Trump is not happy with the way things are working – or not working – in the pharmaceutical industry, and he said he has a plan to create a new bidding process, that, he says, should save consumers money on the drugs they need. In the meantime, other drug makers and retailers could choose to follow the CVS example and just create competition in the market. It’s healthier for the market … and it could make Americans healthier too.
FYI, CVS is represented by Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm.