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CVS cuts the price of a generic EpiPen competitor in half

CVS is now selling a rival, generic version of Mylan's life-saving allergy treatment EpiPen at about a sixth of EpiPen’s price, months after Mylan was eviscerated before Congress because of EpiPen’s soaring cost.

The drugstore chain says it will charge $109.99 for a two-pack of the authorized generic version of Adrenaclick, a lesser-known treatment compared to EpiPen, which can cost more than $600.

CVS Health Corp., the nation's second-largest drugstore chain, says it cut the price it charges for the generic version of Adrenaclick nearly in half. The lower-priced product is now available at all CVS stores. The chain runs about 9,600 retail pharmacies in the United States, including several locations inside Target stores.

These treatments are stocked by schools and parents of children with severe allergies. They are used in emergencies to stop anaphylaxis, potentially fatal allergic reactions to insect bites and stings and to foods such as nuts and eggs.

The syringes are filled with the hormone epinephrine, and they expire after a year. That often means patients must fill new prescriptions even if they never used the old one.

Mylan started taking heat late last summer for its EpiPen pricing, which has climbed more than 500% since 2007. A congressional panel grilled Chief Executive Heather Bresch in September about the soaring cost, which she has blamed in part on insurers, pharmacy benefits managers and others in the supply chain between the drugmaker and the customer.

Bresch is one of several pharmaceutical executives who have been called before Congress, where both Republicans and Democrats have demanded explanations for spiraling drug prices that can plunge patients into debt or force them to skip prescriptions.

President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday during a news conference that he wants to create new bidding procedures on drugs to save money.

Shares of most drugmakers sank almost immediately after his comments and were still under pressure Thursday. Mylan’s stock fell 1.4% on Thursday to $36.77. Meanwhile, shares of Impax Laboratories Inc. — the Hayward, Calif., company that makes Adrenaclick — rose 2.8% to $12.75. 

In the aftermath of the unwanted attention, Mylan has expanded the financial aid it offers customers and launched its own authorized generic in December, priced around $300 per two-pack. But patients with no health insurance or with high-deductible insurance plans are exposed to the full price of the drug if they aren't aware of that assistance or if they don't seek it.

CVS says the new price it is charging for the Adrenaclick generic applies both to insured patients and to those who pay cash without coverage. It's what customers will pay at the pharmacy counter.

Prescription drug prices vary widely because of negotiations between pharmacies, drugmakers and pharmacy benefit managers. The new price CVS announced Thursday is lower, in some cases by more than $100, than other prices listed on websites such as GoodRx that compare retailers.

Impax Laboratories also offers a coupon program for Adrenaclick that can provide additional price breaks if a patient qualifies. 

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UPDATES:

1:50 p.m.: This article was updated with Mylan and Impax Laboratories shares’ closing prices. 

This article was originally published at 9:20 a.m.

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