Economics of Liberty

Why the EpiPen Has a Monopoly (Hint: It’s Not “Runaway Capitalism”)

By Micah J. Fleck

 

The news has once again rolled around that the EpiPen, a specific brand of epinephrine auto-injector, has risen in price astronomically – far beyond the normal rate of inflation. Most recently, the company behind the EpiPen, Mylan, has reportedly raised their price from $100 to $500 per pack – right when school is about to start. Naturally, this has made things more difficult for working class parents to acquire the item by their own means, and caused outcry (especially in liberal media) about how once again this is an example of “runaway capitalism” at work where greed is allowed and exploitation is real.

However, if one looks further into this situation, things are expectedly much more complicated than that.

For one thing, Mylan holds a patent on a type of design that meets specific legal requirements hoisted upon schools for auto-injectors. Mylan therefore exploits this. Also, the FDA is reportedly barring competing companies that do manage to meet the same technical requirements by recalling their offerings based on higher standards than set for EpiPen, or by asking them to undergo more arbitrary testing before true consideration is offered.

Taking this information into account, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that FDA regulations customized to Mylan’s already-established brand and design is causing a monopoly to form around the company’s offering. Thus far the competing companies to Mylan have been given excuse after excuse as to why their products can’t see equal footing in the market. It’s essentially a rigged game – cronyism, to be exact.

However, a new company, Windgap Medical, is currently working on a product that aims to be so radically different and more convenient than the EpiPen that the FDA will have no choice to approve it, and the market will have no choice but to embrace it.

According to Stat News, Windgap’s CEO had the following to say about their product:

“We’re about 40 percent smaller than the EpiPen, so it’s lighter and easier to carry. It’s designed to fit in a pocket. We’re working on proving our epinephrine formulation’s temperature stability — so even if you leave it in your car on a hot and sunny day, you don’t have to throw away the device. We’re aiming for a longer shelf life than the EpiPen — and we’re hoping to make ours more intuitive to use.”

This primed main competitor to EpiPen is set for FDA review by 2018. Until then, it seems all the other competing products already being made will continue to fall short of FDA standards until then. But liberals will blame capitalism anyway, not government.

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