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.