By Henry Ehrlich
In October, we wrote about a new horse in the epinephrine race and wondered if it would be the tipping point, based on the idea that it takes several competitors in a niche to drive down monopoly prices. Here it is, early December, and we read about still another, this one from Sandoz, the company that brought us LSD, but that was long ago and far away.
This one will not be an auto-injector, but a prefilled syringe instead. Sold under the name Symjepi, the price will be $250 for two, without insurance. People are so accustomed to auto-injectors adjusting to the pre-filled syringes will take some doing. Auto-injectors were developed by the military to administer nerve gas antidote under battlefield conditions. Anxious parents and teachers no doubt feel the same level of duress when a child is having anaphylaxis. Introducing another step into the process of deliver a life-saving drug will require additional training and enough practice to so without panic, although the unit appears to be well designed with clear instructions. But once that familiarity threshold is reached, Mylan’s market dominance may suffer a real blow. Maybe the invisible hand will reach out to help patients instead of picking their pockets at the same time.
A salutary effect on pricing is by no means a given. Generic drug makers are described as a price-fixing cartel, with its own private language. As reported in the Washington Post, “The ‘sandbox,’ …was the market for generic prescription drugs, where everyone was expected to play nice.
“’ Fair share’ described dividing up the sales pie to ensure that each company reaped continued profits. ‘Trashing the market’ was used when a competitor ignored these unwritten rules and sold drugs for less than agreed-upon prices.”
The investigation began as an an antitrust lawsuit agains two drugs in 2016 and now encompasses at least 16 companies and 300 drugs.”