Live by the EpiPen, die by the EpiPen
Zach Shallbetter

Repeating a response I made to a previous EpiPen story:

The drug inside an EpiPen is “epinephrin” — which is just a fancy name for “adrenalin”. According to Wikipedia, a vial of the drug inside one of these pens costs between $0.10 and $0.95. The autoinjector gizmo is basically a bunch of plastic parts plus a spring and needle — the cost of the parts can’t be more than a couple of bucks. Admittedly, it has to be assembled under sterile conditions — but that’s true for (for example) medical grade syringes that cost $1.50. Then, it had to be developed and pass FDA rules for a medical device, which certainly isn’t cheap — but so do (for example) asthma inhalers — which (without the drug they dispense), cost $8 in Walgreens. It’s often claimed that the cost of R&D is high — but the drug was discovered in 1901 and synthesised in 1904 — and not by the manufacturer of the EpiPen — their contribution is *only* the auto-injector. I doubt very much that the R&D cost to develop and licence the device is more than that $8 asthma inhaler from Walgreens — and whatever cost that was has been amortized over a couple of decades of market-dominating sales. Then we hear that medical lawsuits are expensive. Yes, that is an issue — but, again, the drug is generic, adrenalin has been used in surgery since 1895 — its’ side effects are extremely well known.
These pens were sold for $57 for a two-pack in 2007. As initial R&D is amortized, they should cost LESS than that now — not more…and certainly not 10 times more.
These gizmos should now be costing $20 for two pens. Not $100 and certainly not $600. The manufacturer made over a billion dollars a year from the sale of these things at the $100 price point. I don’t think they need to make any more profit than that. $40 would be a fair price.

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