The cost for parents to save a child’s life has become suddenly expensive, as a drastic EpiPen price increase makes treatment unaffordable for some families.
The Mylan pharmaceutical company has increased the prices for an EpiPen, the portable device that delivers epinephrine to stop a potentially life threatening allergic reaction. The price was around $100 in 2008 to over $500 today.
“Patients are calling and saying they can’t afford it,” said Dr. Douglas McMahon, a Minnesota allergy specialist. “They’re between a rock and a hard place.”
Mylan’s chief competitor recalled their product last year, and now Mylan dominates the market. With agressive marketing, branding, and lobbying for legislation that requires EpiPens to be stocked by schools, doctors claim that Mylan has a brand dominance equal to a product like Kleenex.
The stated expiration date is one year, requiring parents to pay annually. Many families have multiple EpiPens, one at school, and at least one at home or available to the child outside of school. If they do not have insurance that provides adequate coverage, they pay a very high bill every year. While the company does offer coupons on its website, the cost is still out of reach for some families without assistance.
“When epinephrine only costs a few cents, but they’re going up to $500, personally I don’t think that’s ethically responsible,” said Dr. McMahon.