The Costly Necessity of Epi Pens

This afternoon, a friend dropped her three girls off for me to watch. One of the girls has a severe nut allergy and my friend handed me a little pouch with cute pictures and the cartoon word “Allergy,” on the outside.

I peeked inside and was so impressed with the amount of organization– everything was labeled. The back up epi pen was clearly marked. A pre-measured dosage of Benadryl was included. Instructions on what to do should the need arise, were included and laminated. I love organization and this pouch exemplified it; however, before I could voice my praise, I was struck with the fact that this pouch was vitally important to her little girl’s well being. Had she neglected to leave out any of the items– especially the Epi pen– it would mean the difference between life and death for her little girl.

My friend walked me through the steps on how to use the epi pen. Sadly, my husband is deathly allergic to bees and has two of his own tucked away, so I was familiar with what to do. Thankfully, he has never needed it and neither has my friend’s little girl. However, whether they are used or not, they still have to be replaced yearly as their effectiveness diminishes over time.

My husband can not control getting stung by a bee. My friend can not be there every moment of every day to make sure a nut never comes near her friend. The company that manufactures these life saving medical marvels can control it’s costs.

As reported in the NY Times, the company that produces and sells these pens is releasing a generic pen at a lower cost. However, the generic pens made by the same company selling the name brand pens, is still 300 dollars.

Why can’t they just lower the price of their original product? They have no competitors that are offering a similar product, hence an introduction of a generic item typically. They will still control the monopoly of their product and they control both the cost of the original and the generic. Neither is a cost saving benefit to the people who desperately depend on them.

Despite the fact that Mylan, the company that produces Epi pens, blames others for the cost increase, they are the ones who stand the most to gain from supplying a life saving Epi pen at an increased cost.

When you have a life threatening allergy, you can not escape it or the daily threat it opposes to you or your loved one. Now, you also can not control the fact that the cost is skyrocketing on an item that you desperately need. It seems that is exactly what Mylan is banking on.