Rebecca Dickson, Reporter
Retail costs for EpiPens had increased to more than $600 and lives could be at risk because of it.
EpiPens, a brand of epinephrine auto injectors, provide medication to patients with life-threatening allergies. In case of an anaphylactic shock, not having epinephrine during an emergency may increase the chances of death.
Mylan, the company which owns EpiPens, recommends patients carry at least one EpiPen injector at all times due to the risk patients face in an emergency.
An epinephrine auto injector can be a crucial medication for those who suffer from anaphylaxis, an autoimmune response to an allergen. Usually, these allergies are toward food, insect bites/stings or other environmental changes.
Without proper medical treatment, anaphylaxis can bedeadly.
EpiPens are used by many patients and can prevent death while a patient is transported to emergency care.
“It’s not optional for somebody who has severe allergic reactions to a whole variety of things,” Chairman Jason Chaffetz of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said. “Here you got a drug that has been on the market for a hundred years… but the price of this has gone from roughly $99 for one to $600 for two.”
According to Business Insider, Mylan acquired EpiPen from The Merck Group in 2007. Although EpiPens are manufactured by The Merck Group, Mylan sells and markets them. The company receives $274 and makes a net profit of $100, according to the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch.
“Approximately 85 percent of EpiPen patients pay less than $100 for two (EpiPens). Our pens were used hundreds of times, including on many children who have no known allergies,” Bresch said to the House committee.
For patients who do not have insurance, EpiPens can cost up to $608 without savings cards or other programs.
“I don’t feel that is a good idea,” student Alivia Lloyd said. “I feel scared (about the price increase) because if my mom doesn’t have an EpiPen, she might die.”
Mylan has proposed several solutions in response to the criticism they have received..One solution they offer is a generic product.
“Putting a generic in the market, we believe, would be the most efficient way to make (EpiPens affordable for all patients),” Bresch said.
Not all are happy with this solution. Mylan receives $274 from the brand name EpiPen when sold at wholesale and the generic pens will be sold wholesale at $300. Therefore, some claim Mylan may have a higher net profit off their generic epinephrine auto injector than they would
off of EpiPen.
Other solutions include an EpiPen savings card to save up to $300 (depending on the patient’s insurance), applying for Mylan’s Patient Assistance Program if the patient is 400 percent below the poverty line and EpiPen 4 Schools, a program which provides free EpiPens for
schools to use for students.
Still, there are patients who can’t afford EpiPens, and there are few alternatives for those without insurance.
Mylan said they have products other than EpiPen and work on investing in research and development for other products.
“Mylan, as best as I can tell from afar looking at it, has done a lot of the good in the world and they offer a lot of good products. But of the 635 products they offer, this generates about 10 percent of the revenue,” Representative Glenn Grothmann said to the House committee.
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