Symjepi Epipen
A new product from Novartis' Sandoz is set to launch in the first quarter of 2019 and compete directly with Mylan's EpiPen and other products. lex Wong/Getty Images

  • Novartis' Sandoz expects to launch an EpiPen rival in the first quarter of 2019.
  • A two-pack will cost $250 (R3 589), which is less than other EpiPen products.
  • Symjepi was first approved in mid-2017 and has had an unusually long path to market.

During giant Novartis'Sandoz division plans to launch an EpiPen rival in 2019, marking the end in sight for the 17-month saga that was stretched since the product, Adamis' Symjepi, was approved by U.S. regulators.

With a price tag of $250 (R3 589) for a two-pack, Symjepi is priced less than other products in the allergic reaction treatment market.

Symjepi's price is "about 16.5% less" than Mylan's authorized generic EpiPen and a generic EpiPen product put out by Teva, Novartis said in a press release. The product is also set to launch amid an EpiPen shortage.

See also: SA medical engineers have built a EpiPen replacement that costs R200 a shot

But other factors may make competition tricky.

Symjepi, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions, consists of a syringe that is pre-filled with the rescue medication epinephrine.

Though it could be useful in medical settings like hospitals in particular, those with allergies who don't have medical training may be reluctant to inject a syringe themselves.

Novartis' Sandoz plans to launch the higher-dose version of Symjepi, which is intended for those who weigh 66 pounds or more, in the first quarter of 2019. The lower-dose Symjepi, intended for patients between 33 pounds and 66 pounds, was just approved in late September.

In the health-care industry, it is rather unusual to have such an extended delay between a product's approval and launch. Drugs usually come to market in mere weeks or months after getting a nod from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

After failing to get approval from the FDA in 2015 and again in 2016, Symjepi was approved the following year. Many saw an opening for the product in the aftermath of a scandal around the escalating price of Mylan's EpiPen.

The company then had an extended search for a commercial partner, frustrating investors, which culminated in a July partnership with Sandoz.

Now, "with manufacturing completed, we are well underway to ensure appropriate supply of this life-saving medicine for healthcare professionals and patients in need of a new treatment option," Novartis said in a press release.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: