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The price is NOT right

Alexander Nicholas, Staff Writer

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Sometimes saving a life requires courage, bravery, and knowledge. Other times it takes money.

A lot of money.

“My family and I have been affected since the price per EpiPen has risen several hundred dollars,” Cathedral Catholic High School student Joshua Fabian ’17 said. “Providing enough money for two injectors as well as a backup I keep at my house drains even more from my family’s earnings.”

Fabian and many people who suffer allergic reactions resulting from nuts, bee stings, mold, and other allergens recently have found themselves in a dilemma as pharmaceutical companies have increased their prices for life-saving EpiPens, a device that injects epinephrine or adrenaline into the body to treat anaphylactic shock caused by severe allergic reactions.

The exorbitant price increases have put the devices out of the financial reach of many people who require them to deal with allergic reactions.

According to health insurance research company Connecture, Mylan, a major drug cooperation and retailer, has increased its price by more than 400 percent in 10 years, causing millions of Americans to pay high prices for a product that they need, but can not really afford.

Fabian, who was born with a severe nut allergy, stays clear of all products containing nuts, avoiding these foods to avoid anaphylactic shock, a potentially lethal allergic reaction that kills hundreds of people each year as a result of not having an EpiPen, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Fabian always carries his EpiPen in case of emergencies. He also alerts his school, friends, and peers about his allergy so they may treat him for anaphylactic shock should the need arise.

“Users need a second dose of epinephrine 20 percent of the time,” Fabian said. “This is why it is necessary for me to carry two EpiPens with me at all times.”

The Mayo Clinic, a top-ranked hospital and research facility, reports that more than 200,000 cases of anaphylactic shock occur in the United States each year, and they happen most commonly in teenagers. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and shock.

Mylan’s decision to make major profits over a potentially life-saving device has caused outrage and tragedy. Many people are tired of big business scoring big bucks, while innocent middle class citizens suffer.

“The increase of the price of EpiPens has been extremely poor for consumers such as my own family,” David Fabian, Joshua’s father, said. “With a sudden increase this big, it has become difficult since we are not the richest family out there.”

Mylan responded to the outcry of families after the most recent price increase by stating only 10 percent of children have food allergies, asserting that the profit will not be as much and not many people will be affected.

“Raising the cost of EpiPens was completely irrational because Mylan neglected the 10 percent of children with a food allergy, including my own son,” Fabian’s mother said.

According to Connecture, Mylan will make $166 in profit for every EpiPen sold, and an estimated four million EpiPens are said to be sold this year, thus making Mylan’s profit more than $600 million.

Heather Bresch, Mylan’s CEO, has enjoyed a salary increase of more than 600 percent since she assumed control the company in 2007, Connecture reports.

These raises affect Fabian and his family, causing his family to save more money now in order to afford a necessary treatment. The cost per EpiPen is high, but the fact that multiple EpiPens are needed throughout the year make a difficult situation even tougher, Mr. Fabian said. 

Fabian carries two EpiPens with him at all times, and he keeps a back-up at his home. EpiPens expire within 12 months, but there are several instances when EpiPens’ prescription dates do not last until the renew date. In other words, EpiPens can expire in less than a year, which also balloons costs.

Many Americans are seeking retaliation against Mylan and other big drug corporations. Legislators in Congress, including Bernie Sanders, want to see reform in America’s healthcare system.

Fabian also wants to see reform, especially because he is affected directly. He wants drug companies to address these types of issues in a more serious manner.

“Future actions regarding companies such as these should have a reasonable price for certain medications and items,” Fabian said. “Involving the government for the protection of calculated surges in the prices of EpiPens, and other drugs, would help improve the situation.”

In the meantime, Fabian will roam campus avoiding nut products and saving his money for his next EpiPen. 

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1 Comment

One Response to “The price is NOT right”

  1. Sarah S on October 10th, 2016 7:13 pm

    Good article on a timely issue. EpiPen has a monopoly because of corporatism – which is the combination of big corporations and governmental regulations. “Big pharma” is a result of corporatism. FDA regulations are the reason EpiPen is the only brand for this kind of product. Since there is only EpiPen, they can get away with hiking up the price — hence why big pharma is a problem in the first place.

    Also, a friend of mine said there is a generic “EpiPen.” Please let Joshua know, it’s better to have that than nothing.

    [Reply]

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The price is NOT right