EpiPen Fiasco


rsz_1woman-698974_960_720If you suffer from allergies and are at risk of anaphylaxis, an EpiPen could save your life. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that might occur just minutes after exposure to an allergen, and is definitely life threatening. You might get itching and swelling of your lips and tongue, but it can also lead to tightness and closure of your
throat along with difficulty breathing.

Mylan manufactures the EpiPen that contains epinephrine. This is a synthetic form of the hormone adrenaline that counteracts anaphylaxis. It will help to constrict your blood vessels, increasing your blood pressure, and also reducing smooth muscles in your lungs so as to improve your breathing. Your heart will also be stimulated and it will help to reduce hives and swelling. Normally, people subjected to severe allergies of this kind will be advised to carry 2 doses of epinephrine at all times.

The EpiPen contains about $1 worth of epinephrine but has become outrageously expensive.

Mylan is facing public scrutiny for price gouging. The list price of a two pack of EpiPens is more than $600, which is up over $100 since 2007.

This company nearly has a monopoly on this product and may continue to increase the EpiPen prices. It has been suggested that the hiking prices of the last 3 years has been because of the introduction of a generic, which was expected last year. However, FDA rejected the generic versions (made by Teva and Sanofi’s Auvi-Q) and they were pulled from the market due to problems with dosing. Now Mylan has a monopoly, allowing it to continue the price increases for at least another year. Furthermore, Mylan CEO’s pay rose more than 600% from 2007 to 2015. So now we have the latest pharma fiasco.

Because Mylan has close ties to US allergy advocacy groups, the EpiPen is becoming unaffordable even for many people with good health insurance, and the number of deaths that could be prevented will likely rise.

About $1.7 million was spent by Mylan on TV ads during the Olympics, in spite of being embroiled in a price hike scandal. Viewers were directed to a website to learn about food allergies after an ad featured a teenager suffering from anaphylaxis after accidentally consuming peanuts. Mylan also says it will offer more financial assistance for those people in need of EpiPens. This is in lieu of lowering the inflated cost of this drug. The help would come in the form of additional help with co-pays for people with commercial insurance and additional free EpiPens for uninsured patients. They are blaming the exorbitant cost on “the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter.” This is an unimpressive statement!

Canada sells the EpiPen for at least $400 less than in the US. One lower cost epinephrine injection available in the US is Adrenaclick, made by Impax Laboratories. This administers the medicine using a different method than the EpiPen but may still cost about $500. A generic version of the drug may range from $144 to $379 with use of a manufacturer’s coupon.

Drugs in general have been on the rise. The Turing Pharmaceuticals’ decision to increase the price of a drug used by HIV patients has increased by 5,500% across the board in the US. Medicare cannot negotiate drug prices with drug companies, a practice that is common in the U.K. and other countries with nationalized health care systems. Consider generic equivalents or purchasing your drugs from a reputable Canadian pharmacy whenever possible to lower your own drug costs. More importantly, take control of your health with the first and best step to reduce your reliance on drugs now and in the future.

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