The people have spoken, and it’s nice to know someone’s listening.
After months of back and forth over the price of lifesaving EpiPens, we might finally be nearing a point of affordable pricing as competing manufacturers introduce alternatives for people with severe allergies.
Last week, Kaleo Pharma announced that its version of the device, the Auvi-Q Auto-Injector, will come back on the market. The move follows a self-imposed recall stemming from concerns over the accuracy of its dosage delivery system in late 2015.
The device will be available by prescription nationwide by Feb. 14, 2017 and will have a cash price of $360 — but many people won’t have to pay a cent.
It’s Been a Whirlwind Year for the EpiPen
Here’s how the controversy surrounding EpiPen prices went down:
- In mid-2016, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company behind the original EpiPen Auto-Injector, raised the price of the lifesaving device to upward of $600 for a two-pack. Obviously, this caused some outrage.
- By December, the company announced that it was releasing a generic version that would cost closer to $300. Baby steps, Mylan!
- Just a month later, CVS Pharmacy swooped in with a generic version of the EpiPen’s top competitor, Adrenaclick, that costs as little as $0 with coupons and insurance coverage (and at most $109.99).
But now, we have more good news in the quest to make lifesaving device accessible to everyone.
You Might Be Able to Get Auvi-Q for Free
With the news of Kaleo’s auto-injector came the launch of a new program, Auvi-Q AffordAbility. Kaleo describes it as the “first-of-its-kind access program” for people with life-threatening allergies who rely on epinephrine auto-injectors to treat anaphylactic shock.
Through the AffordAbility program, more than 200 million Americans with private insurance will have access to the Auvi-Q Auto-Injector for as little as $0 out of pocket — even those with high-deductible plans.
For people who are uninsured and have a household income of less than $100,000, the Auvi-Q Auto-Injector will be available for free.
…But It Isn’t Free to Everyone
According to Forbes, the device will cost insurance companies a steep $4,500. And no, that’s not a typo (I triple-checked).
Apparently, Kaleo is depending on a complex pricing scheme that allows it to hand out Auvi-Q for next to nothing.
While some insurance companies may begin to block out Auvi-Q completely at that price, the ones that do pay will hopefully profit enough to sustain the production and free distribution of the auto-injector.
The pharmaceutical company is confident that most insurers want to “support innovation” and gain their members’ trust.
Kaleo CEO Spencer Williamson says, “We are very encouraged by the number of plans that we believe are going to cover Auvi-Q.”
Auvi-Q Gets Personal
Kaleo says its desire to make Auvi-Q available comes from personal experience: The device, which talks users through the entire injection process, was invented by Eric and Evan Edwards, twin brothers who have had life-threatening allergies since childhood.
We can only hope this marks the end of the EpiPen price gouging.
Your Turn: Will Auvi-Q make treatment for those with severe allergies more affordable? Let us know in the comments below.
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s just glad this overpriced EpiPen nonsense is over.