As kids go back to school for the fall of 2016 those with life-threatening allergies face a big price hike on the medication that can save their lives. EpiPens, the injectable device that delivers adrenaline to someone experiencing anaphylactic shock from an allergen, are necessary for many children suffering from serious allergies, mostly food allergies.
One of the main manufacturers of EpiPens has recently hiked the price by over 400 percent, leaving parents in a difficult spot. The price increase is shocking to many and a major factor may be another company’s recalled devices.
EpiPens and Anaphylaxis
It isn’t only children that are affected by severe allergies, but they are most at risk of having a life-threatening reaction to an allergen. That life-threatening reaction is called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, and if it is not treated immediately, it quickly leads to death. The most common allergens that cause anaphylaxis are insect bites and stings, foods, and drugs. Pollen, dust, and other common allergens do not usually put people at risk for this reaction.
Anaphylaxis causes a sudden onset of severe symptoms. These include swelling in the face, mouth, and throat, itchy skin and hives, tightness in the chest, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and a feeling of anxiety. It is the swelling in the face, mouth, and throat that are most serious and can quickly prove fatal.
This reaction has to be treated immediately, as an emergency medical situation. People who know they are at risk for anaphylaxis should be carrying an EpiPen at all times. This device allows the person, or someone assisting, to quickly inject adrenaline, which reduces the body’s response to the allergen. The person suffering from the attack still needs emergency medical care, but the EpiPen is often the life-saving step.
Children at Risk for Anaphylaxis
There is no age restriction on being vulnerable to anaphylaxis, but more children are at risk than adults. This is because food allergies severe enough to cause the reaction are more prominent in children. Many outgrow their allergies by the time they are teenagers or young adults. Children with severe allergies need to have EpiPens at all time. They need to have them at home and at school. Without these devices, tragedy can quickly be the result.
EpiPen Prices Shoot up 400 Percent
Parents whose children rely on this life-saving device have been shocked this summer to find that the price has risen drastically. In 2008 prices were on average $100 for a two-pack and now are at least $500, and often more. Some reports have indicated that a two-pack of EpiPens may cost as much as $1,000. For parents who know their child could die without these EpiPens, the cost is alarming, but has to be forked out.
EpiPens account for 87 percent of all adrenaline injectors sold in the U.S. Although the prices have skyrocketed in recent years, the same devices can be bought for half the price in Canada. This indicates that the price hike is not likely related to a rising cost to manufacture the EpiPens.
What a Recall Has to Do with the Price Hike
The company raising prices on EpiPens is Mylan. It has a near monopoly on the device and can therefore raise prices and ensure that people will still buy. Last year one of the only competitors in EpiPens, Sanofi had to issue a recall of their Auvi-Q adrenaline injector. That left Mylan with the huge monopoly and the ability to hike prices. The recall was a voluntary and was related to the dosing on the devices being miscalibrated, which could lead to dangerous errors in how much medication a child receives in an injection.
A recall may have triggered this price hike, which many consider to be unethical, but there are people fighting back against Mylan. The Senate Judiciary Committee may hold a hearing soon to investigate Mylan and the pricing of EpiPens. Several senators have expressed outrage over the price increases and are ready to make moves to correct it so that parents can afford the medication that may save their children’s lives.
- http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2016/08/21/why-did-mylan-hike-epipen-prices-400-because-they-could/ - 6b2a0922477a