For those with severe allergies, the EpiPen is literally a matter of life or death. A bee sting, inadvertent peanut ingestion—these can lead to anaphylactic shock, which shuts down the airways and can ultimately lead to death. With a quick stab to the thigh, though, the EpiPen can avoid tragedy by dispensing epinephrine. Epinephrine reverses the closing of the airways and other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.
There’s just one problem: The EpiPen is becoming unaffordable.
In 2007, the cost of a two-pen set of the EpiPen, which contains about $1 worth of epinephrine, cost about $57. Then pharmaceutical company Mylan acquired it. The price has since increased by 400 percent, with the biggest changes in price coming in the past few years. In 2013, the price was $264.50. In May of 2015, it was $461. This May, the company again raised the cost to $608.61.
This is a yearly cost for most consumers, as the pens have a stated expiration date of one year. And costs mount quickly, as consumers often have multiple sets of the pens.
The staggering price increase is leading to calls for investigation. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Mylan’s price-setting practices.
Other politicians are in agreement. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said that he would investigate the “shocking increase.” “Sadly, this case is just the latest in a greedy trend of skyrocketing prescription drug prices that are hurting consumers, limiting health options, and strangling our economy,” said Senator Blumenthal in a statement.
However, there is not currently an open investigation into the price of EpiPens.
Outrage is not just limited to politicians. Parents of children with severe allergies expressed their sadness and fear. “It’s very wrong,” said Naomi Shulman of Northampton, Massachusetts, whose daughter has a cashew allergy. “It’s gouging parents about their children’s lives. It’s not like letting them sniffle. It’s life or death.”
Lauren Barr, of Clark New Jersey, spent $735 this year on EpiPens
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