EpiPens Cost Too Damn Much

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I threw away $1,500 last year.

It was bittersweet. I was happy to do it because it meant we didn’t need to use any of the three sets of EpiPens we purchased last year. I was sad to do it because – well – one thousand, five hundred dollars, people!

It seems as if we are among the (very) fortunate (very) few whose insurance still covers the majority of the EpiPen cost, and with the $0 copay card, it’s much easier for us to say that we threw away that kind of money because – well – it wasn’t ours. Even so, I prefer to not burn anyone’s cash, not even our insurance’s. It doesn’t seem like the best use of anyone’s funds when there are so many in need.

This is what gets me about the EpiPen: the autoinjector device was designed for military personnel decades ago in order to keep our soldiers well in case they were exposed to nerve agents in battle.

Therefore, I assume the cost of designing the device is fully covered by now. I also imagine the bits of molded plastic that create the autoinjector likely don’t cost much to produce on an automated manufacturing line. In addition, I can’t imagine that the medication that goes into the device (epinephrine) is so expensive to manufacture that each set of two autoinjectors should cost an average of $500 to purchase.

So why in the world does it cost so much? (You guessed it, that’s a fully rhetorical question. I can venture some guesses, as can you.)

EpiPens Cost Too Damn MuchHopefully soon we will have smaller, more user-friendly devices to serve as our go-to autoinjector for epinephrine. Perhaps this will create a different supply and demand dynamic for EpiPen’s maker, Mylan. For now, though, the EpiPen is our only line of defense against an anaphylactic reaction, and it just costs too damn much.

On the heels of a study released by Northwestern University and reported by the LA Times, we know that food allergies are more expensive for lower-income families. For many households, purchasing even one set of EpiPens can nearly break the budget, so they do their best by buying one package and splitting up the two in the set, sending one to school and keeping one at home. (FARE’s recommendation by the way, is to carry two at all times in case one malfunctions or in the event emergency personnel do not arrive before a second dose is needed.)

Fortunately, there are ways to save on an EpiPen purchase, or to even work with the manufacturer, Mylan, if your family cannot afford an EpiPen purchase at all. Kids With Food Allergies has an excellent, comprehensive guide for this.

I’m happy there are mechanisms in place to help those who do not have the means to access epinephrine otherwise, but it seems to me that a potentially life-saving medication should not have to be so expensive that a family would have to choose between putting food on the table and purchasing a set of autoinjectors.

It just doesn’t seem right.

Here’s hoping we see some serious, market-driven competition for consumers, soon.



Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

2 Comments to EpiPens Cost Too Damn Much

  1. Brenda

    Amen to that! This is so true. Our insurance is great for Epipens and not so great for other things. We have 7-8 sets each year between everyone and every place. I can’t imagine having to split a two pack between my kids or having a Kindergartener carry because we couldn’t put one with the nurse and daycare and home. This really needs to change.

  2. No system of checks and balances is perfect but there’s simply no way to make drugs cheaper without speeding up and lowering the cost of developing them. And there’s no question that delaying approvals and squelching competition has costs too—ones that range far beyond a $600 EpiPen. 

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