Sandoz, a generic drugmaker, and Adamis Pharmaceuticals have announced their joint plan to roll out a generic version of the commonly prescribed and well-known EpiPen come early 2019. Sandoz’s generic epinephrine injector will be known as Symjepi and will be priced so as to be cheaper and relatively more affordable than EpiPens.

The EpiPen Problem

The EpiPen by Mylan has come to be known as a life-saving epinephrine injector in the event of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. However, it’s also been known for its exponential price hikes in the previous years and supply problems.

For one thing, the price of the brand-name EpiPen which had been $94 for a pair as recently as 2007, increased to a staggering $608 recently. That’s about a 548% price hike, which prompted Congress to ask the FDA to look into generic versions of the EpiPen. In response to this pushback, Mylan started selling their own generic version of their own product.

For another thing, brand-name and generic EpiPen has been in short supply since spring of 2018. A subsidiary of Pfizer manufactures injectors for Mylan, and their factories are upgrading their manufacturing facilities to fix and improve quality problems. While production did not stop, it did slow down significantly enough that U.S. regulators let certain manufacturers extend the expiration date on some EpiPen products.

The effects of the shortage found its way down to consumers as parents of severely allergic children had to hold back on sending their kids back to school in the fall for fear of exposure to allergens. Parents have to buy new epinephrine injectors to leave with the school clinic at the start of every school year, and with the shortage, many parents found themselves without the life-saving emergency treatment for their children. Auto-injectors by other manufacturers exist, but teachers are trained on how to use EpiPens.

Symjepi: Disrupting the Epinephrine Auto-Injector Market

Currently in the U.S., there are two generic versions of the EpiPen. One is the aforementioned Mylan generic of their own product, while the other is sold by Teva, an Israeli pharmaceutical company. Both generic versions are priced at $300 a pair for a pair of auto-injectors.

The entrance of Symjepi in the new year will likely disrupt the market as Symjepi will be priced at $250—16.5% less than Teva and Mylan’s generic versions. Sandoz is looking to undercut their competitors and provide some financial relief to families that need it.

How Will Symjepi be Different Than its Competitors?

As almost everyone is used to the EpiPen, Sandoz is facing a challenging road ahead. Can they convince doctors to prescribe Symjepi more than other generic competitors?

Sandoz is lauding Symjepi as a more user-friendly product. While EpiPens have auto-injector mechanisms, Symjepi comes as a pre-filled syringe. All will have the same medicine inside of it (epinephrine), the only difference is in the delivery mechanisms. It will be compact, convenient, easy to use, and it will not be prone to errors in dosage, according to Sandoz.

What do you think? We at the NC Coalition for Fiscal Health are excited about the promise of competition in the market place as a means of lowering health care costs.

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