The rising costs of the EpiPen® in the USA - at what price?


It's a health crisis that affects all of us. The rising costs of the EpiPen® (an injector that dispenses epinephrine - a drug that reverses swelling, closing of the airways and other symptoms of severe allergic reactions to bee stings, peanuts or other allergies), not only directly impacts the people that rely on its life-saving abilities; but it also impacts family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who is near someone who experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The EpiPen® has been an invaluable resource for those who live with life-threatening allergies, as evidenced by this article in The Huffington Post. For years, this drug has been a staple for people in the United States who have been able to purchase it and even afford to have a few stored in locations where they spend the majority of their time. For many, having an EpiPen® in their home, car, desk at work, or school is a reassuring sense of comfort that a life-saving intervention is available at any given time.

Being armed with the knowledge that access is readily available to this product has allowed many people to successfully go about their daily lives with ease - until recently. Mylan, the company that manufactures the EpiPen®, has increased their list price over 450% since 2004, and now lists $600 as the cost for a 2-pack. Since doctors advise some allergic patients to carry two EpiPens® with them at all times in case an extra dose is needed, it's easy to see why this has ballooned into a healthcare crisis.

What is so frustrating is the fact that Mylan has a monopoly on this product and has profited greatly from the price increases over the years; while at the same time, many families struggle daily to keep adequate stock of the one thing that can save their child's life.

Even those with insurance are struggling to keep up with the rising costs as high deductibles are requiring people to still pay nearly full price.

Apparently Mylan has heard the frustrations and concerns from millions over the last week as they just announced they will be offering a generic version of the life-saving allergy treatment for half the price of the brand name treatment. According to an article in USA Today, "Mylan's generic version will hit shelves within several weeks at a list price of $300 for a two-pack carton in dosages of either 0.15 milligrams or 0.30 mg."

While this is helpful news for families who are facing this crisis of surging costs, it still doesn't sit well with many people as they realise this new "generic" still costs three times more than the brand name did in 2007.

This recent announcement of a generic is likely to be a huge relief for the users of the EpiPen®, although it still leaves many wondering what might happen next.

Are you affected by the EpiPen® price increase in the USA? Share your view by posting a comment below.