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How to solve the EpiPen, triple-the-price problem? Treat it like a public utility say USC experts

Aug 31, 2016

EpiPen Prices Soar, Rattling Consumers

Despite nationwide debate over EpiPen pricing, many sufferers of fatal allergies will still fork out $300 for a two-pack of generic EpiPens. ; Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Despite nationwide debate over EpiPen pricing, many sufferers of fatal allergies will still fork out $300 for a two-pack of generic EpiPens prompting some to ask why patent-owner Mylan does not face either more competition or, failing that, government regulation over its pricing.

Which solution would have the best outcomes? Geoffrey Joyce, an expert in pharmaceutical economics at the University of Southern California, usually takes the position that the government should not be negotiating the cost of drugs.

However, he says Mylan’s EpiPen is a special case. “They have not invested billions of dollars in R & D (research and development) to earn a patent and justify the price.” Joyce says Mylan lucked out by purchasing the patent rights from Merck as competitors failed to keep pace, which allowed them to increase the price without fear of competition. “This was a pure and simple exercise of monopoly power. So [the government] could tell Mylan, since you’re a monopoly, you can charge enough to make a reasonable profit, but you cannot gouge consumers who need a potentially life-saving drug.”

Yevgeniy Feyman thinks the government should help spur competition which should bring the price down.

In a commentary piece he writes, “What’s preventing competition is not lack of demand, but regulatory costs imposed by the Food and Drug Administration.  One company estimates that it would cost them at least $1.5 million dollars to develop an EpiPen alternative and push it through clinical trials.”

What do you think is the best solution? 

Guests: 

Geoffrey Joyce, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical & Health Economics, University of Southern California; Joyce co-wrote this commentary “No More Mylan Monopolies

Yevgeniy Feyman, adjunct fellow and deputy director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress

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