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The generic EpiPen is on its way

So what do the names Mark Sinclair, Caryn Johnson and Eric Bishop have in common? They sounded too generic -- even though they were the originals -- for their brands, which are better known as Vin Diesel, Whoopi Goldberg and Jamie Foxx.

But sometimes the generic version is a better choice. Take the original EpiPen from Mylan, which delivers lifesaving epinephrine to people suffering severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to thing like bee stings, peanuts and shellfish. The brand raised its price by 400 percent between 2010 and 2016. That led to a $465 million federal overcharge settlement against Mylan, and encouraged it to market an authorized generic version, which still costs a lot -- between $300 and $500 for a two-pack. Even with that, there's been a shortage of EpiPens lately, and the Food and Drug Administration has had to extend the expiration date on specific lots of 0.3 milligram versions of the EpiPen and their authorized generic by four months.

The FDA hopes the expiration-date extension will be timed to coincide with the release of a newly approved, truly generic version of both the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. It took a while for this generic to be developed because the delivery system was very difficult to duplicate. Once the device was proven to work (it took two years), the FDA gave Teva Pharmaceuticals permission to market its version. We hope everyone will breathe easier once the generic is available -- and (hopefully) affordable -- to all who desperately need it to protect themselves from anaphylaxis.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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