The EpiPen just got some more competition - but there's a catch
Called the Auvi-Q, the device to treat extreme allergic reactions was originally approved back in 2012, but was recalled in October 2015. After the outrage over the price of the EpiPen, the device's makers decided to bring it back.
But there's a catch: a two-pack of the device has a list price of $4,500, roughly 640% higher than the list price of the EpiPen, which had increased in price of a two-pack by 500% over the course of seven years. Before it was recalled, Auvi-Q only had a small share of the market at a list price of around $500.List prices don't tell the full story when it comes to drug pricing, though they are often the most publicly-accessible prices for a medication. Depending on the terms of their insurance plans, many people are only responsible for a co-pay, or might not have to pay at all. But for the growing number of Americans on high-deductible health plans, that list price can often be close to what they're asked to pay at the pharmacy counter.
And there are other players in the system that each take a piece, which means that what a drugmaker actually receives could be lower even as the list price rises. Kaleo declined to comment on its average net price for Auvi-Q.
Kaleo, a private company based in Richmond, Virginia owns Auvi-Q along with Evzio, a device containing the life-saving opioid overdose medication naloxone. The company maintains that while the list price is $4,500, the cash price for people without insurance is $360 and that more than 200 million people will be able to get the device with a $0 copay.
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, sent a letter on February 3 to Kaleo asking for more information about the company's pricing strategy for both Auvi-Q and Evzio, which also has a list price of $4,500 for two devices.
"When setting the 'list' price for products, kaléo always starts with the needs of the patient first and then engages with multiple stakeholders in the healthcare system," Kaleo's vice president of corporate affairs Mark Herzog said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. "Following these discussions, in order to help ensure our product is available as an option to most patients for $0 out-of-pocket, we set the list price at $4500."
It remains to be seen how many prescriptions transfer from the EpiPen to the Auvi-Q.But its high list price appears to be striking the wrong note with health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers. FiercePharma reports that Cigna, Humana, and the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts have come out against the pricing strategy for Auvi-Q, while Aetna is putting it on restricted coverage.