9/09/16 – EpiPen Controversy

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There was outrage when it was learned that a pack of EpiPens cost about $500.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

The EpiPen is a cigar-sized device that automatically injects epinephrine into the thigh to counter an allergic reaction. I carried one for years for an allergy I’ve since outgrown. Lucky me. But for millions of others it can be the difference between life and death.

Politicians and various straphangers were quick to condemn the manufacturer – Mylan — for steep price hikes and blamed it on capitalism. But capitalism isn’t the problem. If you’re going to blame anyone, start with Uncle Sam. Here’s why.

[Instead of issuing a public statement, Hillary Clinton could have merely telephoned Mylan CEO Heather Bresch since the company is a big donor to the Clinton Foundation. Similarly, rather than call for a federal investigation, Senator Amy Klobuchar could approached her Senate colleague Joe Manchin to register a complaint since Bresch is his daughter.]

EpiPens have around for decades. Long enough for generic equivalents to be introduced. Thereby driving down prices. But the Food and Drug Administration has blocked competition.
Just this year, drug companies Teva and Adamis had their applications for low-cost alternatives denied by the FDA. Other potential competitors have been wrapped-up in patent lawsuits.

[Last year, Sanofi voluntarily recalled its Auvi-Q after reports of suspected malfunctioning.]

When federal regulators and the courts allow a company to have a virtual monopoly on a product then the easiest thing to do is raise prices.

The FDA should quickly approve generic competition, and let the free market drive down prices.

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