Food allergies have been in the news lately! Whether you have food allergies, you know someone who has food allergies, or you are someone who just checks social media and/or the news at least once a week, you’ve seen numerous posts and articles about Mylan and their price hike on the life-saving drug EpiPen®.
Two years ago, I could purchase an EpiPen 2-Pak® for $100 — or free if I could find an applicable coupon online. Within the last month, the cost of this drug has increased to $600 for the exact same product. The drug formula wasn’t changed, the company didn’t lose any grants — in fact nothing whatsoever changed other than the fact that the company could raise their prices.
If I can just buy a syringe and epinephrine, why would I need to spend over $500 for the EpiPen®?
The answer is actually quite painfully and annoyingly simple: you’re paying out the wazoo for the autoinjection device and not the life-saving drug itself. Sanofi’s Auvi-Q®, EpiPen®’s only competitor, was voluntarily recalled last year due to problems with the amount of epinephrine being delivered — not enough was injected into the patient, which could cause many problems up to and including death (thankfully, there were no fatalities from Auvi-Q®’s miscalibrations).
But what is perhaps the most frustrating about all of this is that those of us with food allergies have no other comparable option. Amedra’s Adrenaclick® also injects 0.3mg of epinephrine and works similarly to EpiPen®, but users have experienced difficulty in utilizing the device — and many healthcare providers will not prescribe this product and will instead prescribe EpiPen®.
Lots of things need to change: Mylan needs to consider reducing the EpiPen® cost, Adrenaclick® needs to be more easily prescribed by healthcare professionals, and the FDA needs to approve other epinephrine autoinjectors.
It’s ridiculous that a drug worth less than a Big Mac is now worth $600. I really hope that the lack of cost-effective access to a life-saving drug doesn’t end with someone’s life NOT BEING SAVED.