Amid EpiPen price woes, alternatives emerge — but at a questionable cost

More choices are available for millions of people who rely on the EpiPen for life-threatening allergies, but there’s still confusion over the cost of the treatments.  

We reported last August how the EpiPen’s price soared more than 480 percent over seven years to more than $600. It had a virtual monopoly and accounted for 94 percent of epinephrine auto-injectors. Just 26 percent of prescriptions filled today are for the brand name EpiPen, and 48 percent are for Mylan’s authorized generic version. Other companies now claim 26 percent of the market.

Things have changed in the year since we first visited the Henegar household in the suburbs of Indianapolis, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner. Two of the six children in the family have severe allergies, and last year at this time, parents Justin and Lexi were unhappy about the prices for their EpiPens: $600 for a two-pack.

Under increased pressure from patients and lawmakers, Mylan was forced to explain the price hikes. 

“Do you think you were charging too much at $600?” Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., asked Mylan CEO Heather Bresch at a September 2016 Congressional hearing.

“Sir, the – we believe it was a fair price. And we’ve just now lowered that price by half,” Bresch responded.

They launched a generic version for $300 and boosted a coupon program to cut patients’ costs. CVS pharmacy then offered a different generic injector for $109. This past June, the Henegars got a letter from their insurer.

“They are no longer going to be covering the EpiPens. They will only cover the generic version. So they have taken these completely off of their plan,” Lexi said.

But at their pharmacy, generics were of stock. That’s when they looked at the Auvi-Q.

CBS News

Evan and Eric Edwards invented the Auvi-Q after growing up with severe allergies.

“This is very personal for us,” Evan Edwards said. “We carry it in our pockets every day.”

It’s smaller and comes with its own voice instructions.

“Place black end against outer thigh,” the Auvi-Q says.

The voice guide is key, Eric Edwards said. “It’s all about confidence, and we saw hesitation,” he said.

Lexi Henegar liked the product but not the price. The Auvi-Q lists for $4,500.

“So that was kind of disappointing. … They actually called me before they filled my prescription to ask if I wanted them to go ahead and fill it,” Lexi recalled.

But drug maker Kaleo stepped in with its…

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