Skyrocketing Cost of EpiPen Worries Doctors and Patients

For children and adults who suffer from severe allergic reactions, the cost of EpiPens have gone through the roof in the past few years. This leaves those who are in need of the life-saving device scrambling in a market that offers minimal alternatives.

The drug’s manufacturer, Mylan, is being asked by members of Congress for more information on why the cost of a two-pen set is now listed at more than $600. When Mylan took over rights to EpiPen in 2007, a pair of syringes cost $93.88.

This is not a luxury product, but a product that  can mean the difference of whether a child lives or dies. For anyone with extreme allergies to dairy, eggs, or nuts, for example, this is literally a matter of survival, according to the Associated Press.

The most widely prescribed auto-injector on the market is EpiPen and it is found in schools, offices and first aid kits all over the country. EpiPens are used to treat anaphylactic allergic reactions, which dangerously restricts breathing, among other symptoms. The medication in the syringe is epinephrine, also called adrenaline.

Mylan defended the price increase, saying prices had always been rising and that due to changes in the insurance industry and high deductible insurance plans, families feel an increased financial burden, Newsday reports.

“EpiPen is a first-line therapy. It can be lifesaving, so it needs to be available to the patient at an affordable price,” said Dr. Susan Schuval, chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Dr. Sherry Farzan, a specialist in allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck said, families have the choice of another, similar injector, but nothing quite matches the ubiquity and ease of the EpiPen. The drug itself is not expensive, but the cost of the applicator varies. A competitor, Auvi-Q was removed from the market in 2015 due to concerns about malfunctioning devices. Adrenaclick another option, is more difficult to apply, according to Dr. Farzan.

Last year, over 3.6 million U.S. prescriptions for two-packs of EpiPens were filled, according to data firm IMS Health. When discussing the skyrocketing cost for patients without insurance, Dr. Schuval said, “We’re expecting it to be a big problem in the future.”

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