EpiPen vs. Auvi-Q wholesale acquisition cost
Like EpiPen, the Auvi-Q is used to counteract the potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Kaleo was founded by two brothers, Eric and Evan Edwards, both of whom were diagnosed with serious allergies at the age of 3, and who invented the Auvi-Q.
"Growing up with life-threatening allergies and having to always have an epinephrine auto-injector ... it was tough," said Eric, who is a physician. "We thought there needed to be innovation in this space."
The danger from anaphylaxis, and a public relation campaign that pushed the message about that danger, are why EpiPen sales have skyrockted from $200 million, when Mylan bought the device from Merck, to $1 billion today.
During that time, Mylan jacked up the price of EpiPen by more than 500 percent.
Those price increases, and Auvi-Q's exit from the market last year, set the stage for an outpouring of public anger against Mylan in August. That month traditionally sees the biggest sales of epinephrine auto-injectors, and many consumers were confronted for the first time with having to pay $600 or more for EpiPens.
Consumers often buy multiple packs of EpiPens to have at home, school, work and their care.
In response to the controversy, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch was called before a congressional committee for to face blistering questions about the company's pricing strategy. Mylan, stung by criticism, increased its discount for many EpiPen buyers and also said it would introduce a generic version of the product that will sell for about $300.
Kaleo, like Mylan, has drawn attention from Congress because of its aggressive pricing of drugs. Since 2014, Kaleo has increased the price of its Evzio injectors, which contain the opioid-overdose treatment drug naloxone, more than sixfold, from $690 up to a stunning $4,500 for two single-dose injectors.
In a recent story about naloxone price hikes by Kaleo and other companies, Kaleo noted that "all patients and caregivers with commercial insurance and a prescription can obtain Evzio at no cost, even if their commercial insurance does not cover it."
In a press release Wednesday, Dr. James Baker Jr., CEO and chief medical officer of the group Food Allergy Research & Education, welcomed the news of another alternative to EpiPen.
"These lifesaving devices must be accessible and affordable, and Americans should have options when it comes to selecting the right auto-injector for their family."
Kaleo's announcement of Auvi-Q's return came on the same day that top-ranked analyst Irina Koffler of Mizuho Securities initiated Mylan shares with a buy rating, saying she saw the company "as oversold due to recent uncertainty about the EpiPen franchise and market concerns."