The following article was written by Bonnie Kristian over at Rare.us. She does a great job calling attention to what can happen when the federal government meddles in the free market. Fortunately, a Convention of States can address exactly this issue. Click here to get involved.
The EpiPen is a device that delivers the hormone epinephrine directly into the body during a crisis allergy attack. It can be the difference between life and death, and many people with severe allergies carry one with them at all times.
Prescribed to some 3.6 million Americans, the EpiPen also costs more than $300.
That price covers about $1 worth of epinephrine, a little bit of metal and plastic, and a whole lot of crony capitalism, in which the government manipulates the market to the benefit of favored companies.
In this case, the primary culprit in Washington is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
EpiPen is simply lacking competition, thus creating the runaway price increase.
The last serious competitor to the EpiPen, Auvi-Q, was discontinued in October of last year following claims that the device was inconsistent in the dosages it administered. Another similar device, Adrenaclick, was prescribed less than 1,000 times in the U.S. last year, because of concerns that it wasn’t as easy to use. (Its generic was prescribed 183,000 times, a small number when compared with the number of EpiPen prescriptions.*) And a prescription for an EpiPen cannot be filled with Auvi-Q or Adrenaclick, since the two alternatives are not similar enough, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
In fact, no generic version of the EpiPen is currently available, and the FDA recently blocked a request by the pharmaceutical company Teva to start producing one.
Now, the problem here is not, as the Slate article I’ve quoted suggests, the free market. Nor yet is the solution, as per Slate’s wistful musing, government-mandated price control regulations.
Just the opposite: Without the FDA’s iron hand, a more reasonably priced competitor would undoubtedly have emerged long ago, and the makers of the EpiPen would have been forced to lower their outrageous prices to compete.
In short, the problem is regulation, and the solution is for the FDA to step back and free the market.
The feds’ refusal to allow honest, open competition for this prescription drug (and others — for those who remember the “Pharma Bro” drama, the dynamic is exactly the same) is literally putting lives at risk.