The price of an EpiPen, which contains medication that reverses the effects of an allergic reaction, has dramatically increased.
The cost used to be a little more than $100 a few years ago. Now it costs more than $600 at local pharmacies.
“(It’s a) major, major crisis in the allergy world,” said Dr. Paul Rabinowitz, a certified allergist. “You can die. You eat food, you don’t have an EpiPen and you can die.”
Doctors and patients say Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens, is taking advantage of its monopoly on the allergy medicine market.
“They can get away with jacking up prices for consumers and causing a major medical crisis,” Rabinowitz said.
“With changes in the health care insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high-deductible health plans. This shift, along with other insurance landscape changes, has presented new challenges for consumers and they are bearing more of the cost,” he said.
Mylan said that it provides coupons for its customers.
But pharmacists say even with coupons, some patients still cannot afford this life-saving medication.
For example, even though the coupon offers a $0 copay, pharmacists say that is rarely the case and although patients get $100 off, they still end up having to pay around $500.
“It’s a major problem because patients are not (refilling) and cannot refill prescriptions,” Rabinowitz said.
Mylan said that half of the schools in the U.S. have participated in its “EpiPen for Schools” initiative.
The company said that it has given more than 650,000 EpiPens to schools nationwide.