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Mylan's Cheaper Generic EpiPen for Allergy Emergencies Hits Market

(CBS NEWS) Drugmaker Mylan is rolling out a generic version of its emergency allergy treatment EpiPen at half the price of the brand name option. The company’s been under fire this year for its astronomical pricing of an inexpensive drug and has attracted Congressional inquiries.

The EpiPen is filled with epinephrine and when injected can counter the effects of a severe allergic reaction. Peanut allergy sufferers, for example, rely on it when they go into life-threatening anaphylactic shock. The brand name auto-injector’s price has risen by more than 480 percent since 2009, to more than $600 for a pack of two, as CBS News reported in August. The actual cost of the medication inside the EpiPen is only a few bucks, though.

The launch of Mylan’s long-promised generic alternative is expected to still generate millions of dollars in revenue for the company while also protecting its market share against current and future competition.

Mylan NV said Friday that it will charge $300 for the generic version of its life-saving injections, which come in a two-pack. The generic version will reach retail pharmacies starting next week.

The list price of an EpiPen two-pack, which is stocked by schools and parents of children with severe allergies, has grown to $608, up from about $100 seven years ago.

Earlier this year, a Congressional panel grilled Mylan CEO Heather Bresch about the soaring cost, which she has blamed in part on an outdated and complex system for pricing drugs.

In August, the company said it’s also expanding its patient assistance program, which offers coupons and other savings to reduce out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and underinsured patients and families. 

“Mylan also is doubling eligibility for our patient assistance program to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for their EpiPen Auto-Injector,” the company said in a statement.

Shares of the drugmaker climbed 1.5 percent, or 57 cents, to $38.33 in premarket trading before markets opened Friday.

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