EpiPen may be a budget buster for some households, but new data indicates prescriptions for the allergy emergency device are outpacing last year’s figures. At the same time, though, more prescriptions were written recently for lower-cost alternatives and, as a result, last month marked the first time in three years that EpiPen’s share of prescriptions for such devices fell.
The number of prescriptions written for the auto-injector in August rose 19 percent from the same month a year ago. Overall, the number of prescriptions are up 14 percent through September, compared with the same period in 2015. In fact, there were 40 percent more prescriptions written in the first nine months of this year compared with 2013, even as the price for EpiPen was rising, according to Athenahealth, which provides technology services to physicians.
“I think most people just didn’t want to gamble with a potential life-threatening situation and it looks like they were willing to absorb price increases (for EpiPen) if they have to,” said Josh Gray, vice president of research at Athenahealth. The company reviewed more than 78,000 prescriptions written by 970 doctors for EpiPen and alternatives between 2013 and 2016. The prescriptions were given to more than 48,000 patients during that time.
What Mylan has successfully done is grow the market for epinephrine auto injectors. This is more important than market share because of the increased competition. Much to her critics chagrin Heather Bresch’s (negative) publicity became the rising tide that lifted all boats.
So, why wasn’t increasing unit sales of a high profit product enough?
Why did the CEO decide that doubling profits wasn’t good enough, but profits needed to be increased by 4 times, 8 times, 20 times, 1000 times?
A decade ago, the product was sold a little above cost, at a low price, with low sales volume. Today the sales volume is a hundred times and the profits per unit a hundred times, but lots of marketing costs consume that profit per unit, but still, instead of being quite profitable at a few million, a profit margin Walmart would love, the product has profits in the billions, but with no added value to any consumers, just more costs, more taxes to pay for those profits.
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