Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom. (FoodAllergy.com)
We visited our allergist a couple of weeks ago for our annual appointment. It's the beginning of the school year, and like many other mother's, it's my signal to refill our prescriptions. My doctor sighed as he wrote out the prescription and let me know exactly how much it was going to cost me, how sorry he was, and how frustrated he is with EpiPen and Mylan. He's turning away their reps when they come to visit.
He went on to tell me that they are considering filling individual doses of epinephrine in syringes to give to his patients who can't afford their EpiPens anymore. He said "It's not ideal. But something is better than nothing. I prefer an auto-injector, but I don't want one of my patients to die because they are going without."
He's asked his reps from Mylan about the price hikes. Their answers have been vague. They make cartoon books and educational materials and sometimes sponsor booths at allergy conferences. My doctor said "I do not have any quantifiable information on how much community outreach they actually do. I believe an aggressively priced product would do a lot more."
The truth is, allergists are seeing their patients go without -- because they can't afford it.
What about other options? What happened to competition?
EpiPen controls 90% of the market. Twin-Ject and Auvi-Q were potential competitors and pulled off the market.
I called my pharmacist. His reaction was the same exasperated, irritated, apologetic attitude towards EpiPen. "It's ridiculous. But they can do it because they have a monopoly. There is no generic equivalent, and they know it."
"EpiPens used to be cheap—just $35.59 wholesale in 1986." (In These Times) My pharmacist told me the total price for a 2-pack was $612.
As the mother of a child with anaphylactic allergies this type of price jacking is alarming and unacceptable. It's greed playing on fear - the life threatening kind. One person commented on Facebook: "You are forcing many families to gamble with their children's lives, when your costs haven't gone up."
Even Martin Shkreli (the guy guilty of similar price jacking), the former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, has weighed in:
"These guys are really vultures. What drives this company's moral compass?" he told NBC News in a phone interview.
When even Martin Shkreli thinks you've lost your moral compass, you know things are bad.
If you think this is unacceptable tell EpiPen / Mylan what you think: 800-395-3376. (and tell your friends to do the same).