Friday, August 26, 2016

How Do Food Allergy Families Afford the Skyrocketing Price of EpiPens?

Unless you've been living under a rock, even if you do not have any serious allergic reactions that require an emergency one dollar dose of epinephrine to keep you from drying, you know Mylan the company that makes Epi Pen has raised its price by 400%. According to a price comparative search of Epi Pens using GoodRX, the cheapest you can fill an EpiPen prescription in Columbus, Ohio is $616 after using a GoodRx coupon. No GoodRx coupon? Plan to pay $738.

Since everyone is required to have health insurance what's the big deal? you say?

The big deal is a lot of health insurance companies are prepared to cover the skyrocketing cost, especially if a family can only afford a plan that has high out of pocket deductibles, which means allergy patients are forced to pay up to $600 for one prescription.

How do food allergy families afford the high cost of EpiPen
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What you also may not know is that you have to carry two EpiPens with you at all times in case the first one doesn't work. Rarely does an allergy patient only has two EpiPens in case of emergency.   Typically you carry two on your person, two at home, and two elsewhere such as at work or school. EpiPens expire after one year. So you have to cough up at least $600 - $1,800+ per year in hopes you never have to use the medication.


Mylan said they will be issuing $300 coupons for EpiPens and they said they give free EpiPens to schools so we're good, right?

Not really.

Schools only get four free EpiPens per school from Mylan. Four. Would you bet your child's life on that?

As for the EpiPen coupon, Mylan has conditions that only low and moderate income families qualify for the discount coupon.  According to Forbes article, Why Did Mylan Hike EpiPen Prices 400%? Because They Could there are middle class families with health insurance who are paying more for EpiPen prescriptions than they do on their mortgage. 

Let that sink in for a little bit.

Two $1.00 doses of epinephrine can cost more than a house. If you can't afford to fill the prescription you die from something as minor as a bee sting.


 I am fortunate that my dairy food allergy is not so severe that it can cause anaphylaxis that requires epinephrine. However I have a personal stake in this too. My allergies recommends I get allergy shots for my year round seasonal allergies and wants me to carry an EpiPen just in case. At the time of my last allergy test, I was still struggling through 6 months of sinus and ear infections and wanted to clear that up before I started treatment. Now with Mylan's price gouging I'm wondering if I can live with miserable allergy haze for a bit longer....

I am all for a company selling their product or service to make a profit. Profits are the money companies use to pay their expenses, make improves, hire the best super smart people with years of education to create medical products what they are worth, and afford the years of research, development, testing and certification required to create a life saving medicine.

I'm also for a free market where if I don't like how a company treats their employees, customers, or slaps a high price I don't feel is fair I can go to a competitor for a similar product. Not to mention, competition keeps one company, like Mylan, from becoming a monopoly and jacking the price 400%.

What is even worse is according to the Los Angles Times editorial EpiPen Price Gouging Demonstrates Need for More Competition in Generic Drugs Mylan:

"The company twice struck deals with would-be competitors to delay them from seeking approval for generic versions of the EpiPen, and later petitioned the FDA to hold off an EpiPen alternative on the grounds that it didn’t use the same safety mechanisms, and so could be confusing to users in an emergency situation."

Let that also sink in for a moment. The United States Food and Drug Administration allowed Mylan to block other drug makers from creating a generic version of the EpiPen which would keep the price in check for consumers because they would have alternatives to the expensive EpiPen. I am livid consumers have been sold up the river by our own FDA.

Consumer Reports writes in How to Get the Cheaper EpiPen Alternative that there is a generic epinephrine injector named Adrenaclick that is a more affordable $145. It is slightly different than an EpiPen, which makes sense since the injector technology itself is the thing Mylan owns, not the drug inside it, but I personally think the learning curve in minimal. However, at this time since I haven't used either brand or type of epinephrine injector I wouldn't have to unlearn removed one cap on the pen instead of two during an emergency.

Has the EpiPen price hike affected you? How are you coping with it? Do you have any advice for severe food and allergy suffers who depend on Epi Pen's life saving medication?


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