Food Allergy Chronicles: The Cost of Allergies Part 1

Cost Allergies

Back in May I wrote about the EpiPen Problem 

The Cost of Allergies:

There are two ways to look at this question, the literal and the not literal. To look at it one way they will cost you freedom, relationships, confidence, trust, your want to socialize. All those things are fixable, you can get over them by learning to manage your allergies to the best of your ability. In the literal sense though allergies cost money. Lots and lots of money.

With the recent media outrage over Mylan and the cost of EpiPens the general public is getting a small sense of what those cost look like. I say small because it’s literally just a portion. Add to that cost doctor’s appointments, other medications, and the ever important food. And yes our food costs more . . . a lot more.

EpiPen prices are at an all time high of about $600 dollars for a 2 pack. Most families of small children need at minimum a pack at school and a home/for carry pack. As an adult I self carry everywhere so I only fill one 2 pack at a time. I would prefer to have a set for work and a set for home but it’s not a feasible option. Now assume you have a perfect year and you don’t have to use the medicine you won’t have to spend anymore money until the following year. (EpiPens have a yearly expiration date and need to be replaced accordingly). In my case I have not had a perfect year. I have had a remarkably not perfect year and I am on my third 2 pack. You can probably do the math on that.

On top of my auto-injector I carry Benadryl and 2 inhalers. These also cost money, not outrageous but an expense. Now if allergies are part of an autoimmune disease add in that cost. Perhaps a round of steroids for various issues. In order to keep those prescriptions current,  you have to go to the doctor. Is it a specialist? What’s your co-pay? Have you met your deductible?

Everyone has to eat. Everyone deserves to enjoy eating. Everyone should be allowed a variety every now and again. Allergy free food is expensive, like 2 or 3 times the price of a allergy full counterpart expensive. Usually for much less food as well. A loaf of bread is $2-$3…a loaf of gluten free bread $6-$8 and you get about 6 to 8 slices. Top 8 free cookies- $6 for 12, Chips Ahoy- $4 for 36. Now I understand that some people will say that we don’t need those things please remember neither do you or your children. Generally if people are looking to save money they buy store brand or generic. You know what’s in cheaper food….fillers. You know what’s in fillers…allergies. Cheap oatmeal has wheat. Cheap sauces and dressing have soy, and cheap anything is definitely produced in a facility that has some combination of allergies in it. Even Chick-Fil-A, who are getting ready to debut the first gluten free bun in a fast food restaurant, is going to charge an extra $1.50 for gluten free sandwiches.

This isn’t meant as a complaint in anyway but I think people need to realize it’s a lot bigger than just EpiPens. FARE had estimated some time ago that they thought the financial burden of allergies was about an extra $5,000 a year. Given the EpiPen cost alone it’s probably more likely close to double that or $10,000. The average American family makes about $50,000 a year, making the cost of allergies as much as 20% of their income.

Next week I’ll talk about some tips to save money . . . Stay tuned. Together if we make enough noise we can make the changes we need.




Food Allergy Chronicles: The EpiPen Problem

With the EpiPen news this week I thought it was a good time to re-publish this article from May, 2016. Mylan has issued some new discounts/coupons in the last several days in an attempt to recover their image more than an attempt to lower cost. They didn’t lower the cost, they simply are giving a larger coupon value. If nothing else, we have learned that if large group of people speak out, somebody listens – sort of! In the next week or so I will be publishing some new information I have found regarding generic forms that some may be able to use as well as the coupon/discount information for Mylan.

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Let me start by saying I love EpiPen. I think Mylan makes an easy to use, reliable product.

The problem however has become the price of the product. From 2007-2015 Mylan’s yearly revenue from EpiPen increased from $2 million to $1 billion dollars. Now some will say its an increase in people needing the product, I say no – it’s the skyrocketed cost of the product.

The cost of an EpiPen has increased from $57 for one in 2007 to the current price of around $550 dollars (mandatory purchase of 2 pack). That’s a 425% increase in the last 10 years. In 2011 Mylan began making EpiPens available only in 2 packs to coincide with recommended number of EpiPen regulations.

I understand that inflation happens. Supply and demand happens. Product changes happen – but a 425% increase? A lot of other things have happened as well. For instance, now only being able to buy 2 at a time. Even with the 425% increase the cost would be more manageable at around $250 to $275.

At these prices, unfortunately, there is a high possibility that there are people going without this life saving medication. A lot of people would probably bring up politics at this point but that’s not what this about. This is about making sure no one is put in a position of not being able to save their own life because they can’t afford the medication. Are there families making a choice between paying rent or buying Epipens? I’m sure there are. Yes, there are some discount cards available but they still aren’t enough. If you need to have EpiPens at school/work and at home –  that’s over $1,000 at a minimum for someone with no prescription insurance. Mylan does offer a “no co-pay” coupon if you have prescription insurance or $100 per year coupon if you don’t. Still, many cannot afford the necessary medication.

FARE (foodallergy.org) released a survey last week with questions on this topic so I feel better knowing that they see an issue here as well. I am also confident they are looking into ways to help.

Everyone knows at this point that I believe in management as the number one treatment of food allergies. Having your medication is a huge part of management. I think if half of the people who are petitioning Kellogg’s, or starting fights with schools boards and boycotting companies would put that same amount of energy into fighting for making it easier and more affordable for families to get needed medication, we could make a huge change and help all 17 million of the people who it affects. 

We need to concentrate on how to help everyone that needs help, not just ourselves.

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blink_health_logoAn Open Suitcase has partnered with Blink Health to help bring awareness for those can’t afford their necessary medications. At Blink Health, their mission is to make prescription medications available at lower prices to millions of people across America. Blink Health is committed to ensuring that no one goes without the drugs they need to live a healthy, happy life. Whether you have good insurance, bad insurance, or no insurance at all, Blink can help save you money at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. Blink Health is the first company to develop a proprietary technology to group millions of patients together, creating the strength to negotiate the lowest drug prices possible. Blink Health believes that lower drug prices are healthier for everyone. Lower drug prices can put an end to skipping doses or stopping medication altogether. Lower drug prices mean Americans can take the drugs they’re prescribed without worrying about the cost. Blink Health believes that no one should have to stress about taking their medications.




Pete’s Dragon Opens Today! Check Out These Activity Sheets and Dragon Cupcakes

Pete's Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes

The most magical movie of the year, PETE’S DRAGON is finally opening in theaters everywhere TODAY! August 12th! This is one of the best family movies of the year and equally perfect for kids and adults alike!

 

Check out these Pete’s Dragon Activity Sheets and Dragon Cupcakes!

“Bryce Dallas How-To” with Bryce Dallas Howard – Dragon Cupcakes!

Pete's Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes

 

 

“Bryce Dallas How-To” with Bryce Dallas Howard – Dragon Cat Costume!

 

Like PETE’S DRAGON on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPetesDragon

Follow PETE’S DRAGON on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneypetes

Follow PETE’S DRAGON on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneypetesdragon/  

Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/

Visit the official PETE’S DRAGON website here: http://movies.disney.com/petes-dragon-2016

And don’t forget your Disneybound outfit when you hit the theaters this weekend!

Petes Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes




Food Allergy Chronicles: NefCase Review

I received a NefCase product for free for purposes of this review. The opinions, however, are 100% our own.

Protect Kids and Keep Medicine Secure

For EpiPens and other epinephrine and insulin pen auto-injectors

NefCase

NefCase is the newest auto-injector (EpiPen) case on the market. It’s concept is simple. EpiPens are great for those who need them but can be dangerous if small children get a hold of them. Emergency rooms see lots of lacerations from EpiPens each year. The NefCase is a super durable, waterproof, child proof case. It is a similar material to a nalgene bottle, and the cap is like what you see on Tylenol or other medication bottle. It’s very easy to use, and as an adult it takes no more time to get into than the case an EpiPen comes in.

NefCase was created by Jason, dad to a toddler food allergy sufferer, shortly after his son was diagnosed.

“The allergist confirmed Zac is allergic to cashews, and the doctor prescribed an EpiPen®.  Prior to leaving, the doctor gave us a demonstration on how to use the EpiPen® with a trainer. This caught Zac’s interest immediately, and he asked to play with it. Within seconds of receiving it, he pulled off the blue safety cap and was running around with a ready-to-fire (trainer) EpiPen®.

As a worried dad, I couldn’t help but think about what would happen if this occurred with the realEpiPen®. As an engineer and a husband of a registered nurse, we knew there had to be a better way. We were very surprised by the lack of safe, child-resistant options for carrying case. I immediately began designing and came up with a working prototype in a week. The NefCase is child-resistant, yet easy and intuitive for adults to open within seconds during an emergency, even without instructions. That’s crucial if you are in a panic.

Our goal is to make sure every family has access to life-saving medication, without the fear of children getting their hands on it and getting hurt.”

As for my thoughts . . . I love it!! My love for it actually has nothing to do with what the product is intended for though. I’m an active person and this is the best product I have found to protect and carry my auto-injector. It comes with an attached carabiner that easily clips to anything, and it is basically unbreakable. It clips to my gym bag. It clips to my water bottle. It clips to my backpack. There is also a slide type clip along the side similar to a belt clip that can be used to hold the NefCase to other items.

It’s only downside is that it only holds one EpiPen but the company offers a discount when you buy 2. While it might seem bulky at first, I don’t think 2 will take up much more room than 2 EpiPens with standard connector they come with. It isn’t insulated in anyway but I could see an insulated sleeve of some sort being offered as an accessory by the company at a later date. I think there is a lot of room for this product to grow and for more accessories to come along as well. I think items or attachments to clip to bikes, kayaks, the wall, would be awesome.

All in all I really like it, and it is now my everyday method of carry. Do I think there could be some improvements or addition down the road, sure. As a new company though I stand behind them, and I think they have a great thing going. The product is not only good for it’s intended purpose of stopping small children from having access to an auto-injector, it is perfect for an active adult that needs to have an auto-injector with them at all times. The design keeps it handy. It is attached right to the outside of my backpack – no digging through anything to look for my medication if needed.

NefCase is available directly from the company – NefCase.com or on Amazon HERE.

P.S. NefCase could also be used for insulin pens or any medication delivered in a similar device – any device that shouldn’t be easy for children to get into on their own!




Food Allergy Chronicles: The Invisibility of Allergies

Invisibility of Allergies

If you have read anything I’ve written before you know I am a firm believer in taking personal responsibility for managing your allergies. I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. I do however expect a certain level of respect.

Chronic allergies such as food allergies, allergies to insects, and allergies to medication are an illness. They are not something that goes away, but they are not always visible. A person can’t look at me and tell I have a laundry list of allergies and people lack an understanding of things they can’t see. Unless you witness first hand someone having a reaction, you may never understand the severity of the issue.

Most people I know who have allergies have had people question them about it at least once. “Just eat an almond and see what happens”  “ You don’t look like you had a reaction,” or  “Prove it” are all things people foolishly say. People also like to mock and make fun while they eat their cupcakes, doughnuts, sandwiches, etc. If you have never been in a position where you can’t breath – good for you – because I can tell you it’s terrible. Have you ever thrown up while you can’t breath? Also terrible. Hives? Terrible. Swollen face, eyes, hands? Terrible.

Auto-injectors are the life-saver of anyone with allergies. They deliver a life saving dose of epinephrine whenever you use them. However, to use them you need to slam an inch long, 22 gauge needle into your leg. You guessed it, it’s terrible.

My point is not to get people to feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for kids with cancer, I require no sympathy. I go out of my way to not bring attention to the fact that I am terrified every time I eat food I didn’t cook, every time I’m outside in the summer months, or every time I’m around people who are eating. I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something or disappoint people if I have a reaction. I’m afraid to eat at my brother’s wedding because I don’t want to risk ruining it. I hide these things because I don’t want attention for something that is just a fact of my life. I do, however, want people to understand no one chooses this. No one goes out of their way to live this way. I choose to live my life everyday without asking people to make changes for me. I spend time outside, and go to restaurants and I’m afraid every step of the way. Show respect, be happy you can’t see it because it when you can see it then you will really need to be worried. It isn’t pretty!