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Mylan expects that generic version of EpiPen will capture vast share of market

EpiPen
Jim Bourg | Reuters

Pharmaceutical giant Mylan has said it expects its planned generic version of its brand-name EpiPen to eventually account for more than 85 percent of all sales of its auto-injector anti-allergic reaction devices, possibly "saving patients and the healthcare system more than $1 billion."

That projection is made in a seven-page letter Mylan sent U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who had asked the company about its rationale for pricing EpiPens at more than $600 for a two-pack, which is more than 400 percent higher than the life-saving devices were selling for several years ago.

Mylan last week responded to growing outrage over those price hikes by announcing it would introduce a generic version of EpiPens soon. The generic version will sell for $300, or about half of the price of the brand-name version.

"We anticipate that more than 85% of prescriptions will shift to the generic, potentially saving patients and the healthcare system more than $1 billion," Mylan wrote in its letter to Grassley.

Mylan spokesman Nina Devlin, when asked by CNBC if that was the first time the company had ever revealed a projection of market size for the generic version, said she believed it was.

EpiPens contain the drug epinephrine, which counteracts the potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Grassley on Thursday said of Mylan's letter, "I appreciate the information provided but it's an incomplete response and wouldn't satisfy my constituents who are upset about the EpiPen price increases. It doesn't provide the full picture that I requested, and it doesn't answer all of my questions."

"There isn't much discussion of what analyses went into the price-setting in response to my question," Grassley said. "There also isn't much of a description of the product features and value that the company says have helped to justify the price increases. The company say a large number of patients have benefited from patient assistance programs but the outrage Congress is hearing seems to indicate that a lot of people aren't seeing those benefits. It may be that the newly announced expanded patient assistance program will make a difference, but that's to be determined. consumers."