EpiPens should be accessible to all who need them
EpiPens have been around since 1977. That being said, I certainly wasn’t alive while the prices sunk as low as $57 out of pocket — but I’m alive and well now. And as I walk this, let’s call it, death-defying world, it has become more than just a comfort to walk around with my EpiPen in my pocket.
Let’s get started with some numbers: According to The New York Times, from 1977 to 2016, the price hike of EpiPens has come out to a whopping $608.61 cents for a pair. I know what you’re thinking: what about insurance? You’re not the only one. Just bringing up this already so controversial topic, I had others clawing at my throat reporting statements such as, “Only those without insurance are affected by this price hike.”
So, do you want some more numbers? You got it: Fifteen percent of Americans don’t have an ounce of health insurance. That doesn’t take into account those with, let’s say, subpar insurance, who are still paying $400 or more per pair of EpiPens.
That’s not even the saddest part. It’s not the drug, epinephrine that’s even very expensive, it’s the company Mylan and their delivery system.
To bring this back home, back in 2014, I was diagnosed with a condition called cold-induced urticaria. I could bore you with the medical terms, but long story short, I’m allergic to cold temperatures, deathly allergic, actually. However, the odds are pretty low that I’ll be in an ice box, freezing to death, and that I’ll need my EpiPen. Nonetheless, it’s a precaution, and I can enjoy the frigid ocean like any other born and raised New-Englander. My point is, I have to pay upward of $300 for my EpiPens every year considering that, yes, these babies do expire. Fortunately, I am blessed with parents who take care of burdens like these. But many do not have those resources.
I feel ashamed. I feel ashamed that medicine is treated as a profitable industry rather than a means of treating diseases and saving lives.
To get more insight on this topic I took the liberty to call my allergist from home, Dr. Jordan. E. Scott from Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Leominster, Massachusetts. I’ve been seeing him as a patient for nearly three years since my first incident and he has never steered me wrong, so I was interested to see what he thought.
“As a parent and a citizen who has to pay these rising prices I have to say I’m not exactly happy [with the situation],” he said. “But as someone who sends my patients to buy these products, I can see the profitable side of things.”
It’s easy to say concepts like inflation, economic issues and other financial related predicaments are the cause of a price hike but there are real humans responsible for this company. On Mylan’s website, its slogan, “Seeing is believing,” appears in bright blue letters on the side of the page. Does anyone else see the irony in that? I don’t think those who can no longer afford something that they have the right, not privilege, to own are going to be doing much believing in this organization.
Under this organization, some names such as Heather Bresch, chief executive officer, Wendy Cameron, director, and President Robert J. Cindrich; these are all real people allowing those without proper insurance to sink under these circumstances.
Although my specific allergy isn’t directly related with that of food, the severity and need for EpiPens persist among those with food allergies. Mackenzie Gannon is an Ithaca College senior with severe allergies to eggs and dairy.
“The EpiPen has saved my life four times,” Gannon said. “ I never go anywhere without it. I am privileged enough to have health insurance that assists in paying for my EpiPens, but many do not have the same luxury. It’s completely discriminatory and absolutely criminal to charge $600 for something that contains only $3 worth of epinephrine. There’s no reason for this other than a corporation’s selfishness and greed.”
Gannon also shared a resource named FARE, also known as Food Allergy Research & Education, an organization and advocacy group to network with those with allergies. Recently, FARE sent out an email to all their members: “At FARE, we share your frustration about the pricing of an access to auto-injectors and encourage you to share your thoughts with Congress. FARE is actively working on Capitol Hill to ensure that the patient’s voice is part of these conversations, but we need your help to keep the focus on solutions, not just finger-pointing.”
The dramatic increase in prices of auto-injectors is a serious problem. I view even a single child’s injury or death due to allergies as a preventable tragedy if they cannot afford an EpiPen, and so should you.
Meredith Nash is a freshman writing major who may or may not bathe in coconut water. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.