Families paying more money for children’s EpiPens

An item that could save your child’s life just got more expensive.

In 2008, a two pack of EpiPens, a portable device that can stop a potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, was around $100. Now, families tell me they’re spending more than $500 for the same pack.

Mallery Fowler teaches kindergarten at Fancy Farm Elementary School In Kentucky. This year, she has her 5-year-old son, Miles, in her class. Like a lot of kids, Miles is allergic to peanuts.

"I think it’s scary, because you don’t ever know if this is the time that his throat will close up or that he wont be able to breathe," says Fowler.

Fowler says that’s she always keeps two EpiPens in Miles’ backpack. In years past, she would buy extra to keep at home and at his grandmother’s house. This year, she didn’t because the price of two EpiPens was more than $500, and they expire after one year.

"It’s just a big amount of money," says Fowler. "It’s not what I was expecting to pay, but it’s what I had to pay."

Principal Janet Throgmorton says the school has a few extra EpiPens that the Graves County School District paid for just in case a child has an allergy they didn’t know about.

They are locked away in a cabinet next to prescription EpiPens for students like Miles.

"Ten years ago, we didn’t have an EpiPen in the building, and now we have several," says Throgmorton.

Fowler says she has no choice but to pay the price, because her son needs to have an EpiPen.

Mylan Pharmaceutical is the company that manufactures EpiPens. When I asked why the price had increased, they sent me this lengthy statement:

Mylan has worked tirelessly over the past years advocating for increased anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment for those living with potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies. EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector provides emergency treatment for anaphylaxis and may provide the critical time needed to seek emergency medical care. Given the unpredictable and life-threatening nature of anaphylaxis, nothing is more costly than failed or no treatment. As such, ensuring access to epinephrine – the only first-line treatment – is a core part of our mission.

With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise. This shift, along with other insurance landscape changes, has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers and payors to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.

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