The amount of money people have to pay for an EpiPen has increased to an alarming rate over the past few years. Two US senators have now called for an investigation into the recent EpiPen price boost. In 2007, the average price of a device such as this was around $57. Nowadays, it can cost more than $500.
An EpiPen is a life-saving device used by people who suffer from allergies. In case of an anaphylactic shock, it is used to auto-inject a dose of epinephrine, which stops the allergic reaction.
Republican senator Chuck Grassley has written a letter to Mylan, asking them to give reasons for the EpiPen price boost. Meanwhile, Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar wants the Federal Trades Commission to investigate the issue. This comes at a time when the general public is much more aware of the often greedy pricing policies of pharmaceutical companies.
EpiPen is a brand name, but the fact that it has become the generic name for such as device is an indication of the underlying issue. There is one company that produces these devices, Mylan Inc. Mylan does not have any real competitors. There is one other similar device called Adrenaclick, which has a slightly different design. But a two-pack costs around $400, so it’s still quite expensive, and it’s difficult to come by.
The people who rely on these devices do not have any alternatives, and they cannot refuse to buy them. Thus, they have no real way of protesting against the EpiPen price boost.
And it’s not only individuals who rely on these devices. Schools, hospitals, and other public institutions need to have them on hand, in case of an emergency. Medicaid covers the costs of these devices for children who suffer from severe allergies, so in the end, it is the taxpayer who has to pay the bulk of the sum involved in the EpiPen’s price boost.
The Situation of the EpiPen Price Is Not Unique
The most infamous case of medical price gouging in recent years is that of Daraprim. Martin Shkreli, through his company Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired the drug in 2015. It has a wide range of uses, mostly as an anti-malarial and antiparasitic, and in the treatment of people suffering from AIDS.
Overnight, the price of the drug increased from $13.50 to $750. This sparked a debate over the practices regarding the selling of life-saving drugs that had no generic versions, and no other alternatives.
Valeant is another pharmaceuticals company that has inflated the prices of their drugs, but they did so in stages. The amount of money an average patient has to pay for the same treamtment has increased, because it did so gradually, it did not catch the public’s attention. And there are many other drugs in this situation.
The increase in the EpiPen price was not as dramatic, but for individual users, it is still significant. Unfortunately, rarely is the public aware of the situation. Because there’s no competition for these products, and sufferers cannot choose to stop using them, without adequate public monitoring, pharmaceutical companies are more or less free to do as they please.