EpiPens aren’t optional. Purchasing them is not a choice for me. It’s not something I can just “think about buying,” and then take the plunge when I feel I have adequate money in my pockets. No, this is not how it works when it comes to life or death. EpiPens are mandatory. They accompany me everywhere, my valued possessions, my necessary sidekicks. Without my two EpiPens, always hiding snugly at my side in my purse, I am at the risk of death. It all comes down to just a little peanut…just a speck of a peanut. If I inhale even the slightest bit of peanut dust, I could die. So this skyrocketing cost? It’s ridiculous; it’s unfathomable.
This is a drug that determines whether I live or die.
And though my allergy has just become a natural part of life, and sometimes makes me the butt of jokes, it’s serious, and it’s scary. When I stop and actually think about it, it freaks me out. Something that everyone loves, and consumes in terrifying quantities, has the power to end my life. Just like that. One little peanut. I wash my hands constantly, I refrain from sharing food or drinks from others, I read the ingredients on everything (and I mean everything) I eat, and I even have my 24 hour “peanut free “rule” when I kiss someone. I’m lucky though – I’ve never had an allergic reaction, most likely due to my slightly obsessive prevention strategies. But studies suggest that 1 in 150 Americans live with anaphylactic allergies, such that 1 in 150 Americans require EpiPens.
This 400-500% price increase by the drug company Mylan is putting many people in danger.
This is a prime example of large drug companies taking advantage of vulnerable individuals. According to NBC News, this price hike may result in a cost of over $600 for an EpiPen two pack. Even with insurance, it may still be somewhere in the ballpark of $250 per pen. To make matters worse, EpiPens have to be bought on a yearly basis, as they expire after a year, and many people like myself prefer to have a pack up set of EpiPens. How can people, parents, and children be expected to pay these high prices? These elevating costs are putting peoples’ lives in danger if they cannot pay this fee, and placing a heavy financial burden on those who even can summon up the money for new pens.
Even though Mylan will be coming out with a generic pen in the near future, it will still be costly.
You see, the actual medication of the EpiPen, the epinephrine, is not an expensive drug; conversely, it’s actually quite inexpensive.
It’s the actual pen (the dispenser of the medication) that is extremely costly, and Mylan has a patent on this injector. The generic is expected to have a list price of $300 (for an Epi-Pen 2 pack), which is still not readily affordable for for many Americans.
Access to EpiPens should not be a luxury or a privilege only awarded to the wealthy. We should all be given the right to live without the anxiety of questioning whether we can afford a lifesaving drug. And to tell you the truth, even having two EpiPens at my side still doesn’t mean I live without fear. I can’t imagine not having these as security. EpiPens should be a right. EpiPens are lifesaving drugs. We should not live in fear of accidentally consuming a trace amount of a peanut, or being stung by a bee and having no help, no medicine to depend on. And even more, we should not have to pay, nor be expected to pay, $600 to feel the same sense of safety and security that non-allergic Americans are freely granted.