Medical Mess

EpiPen prices soar, leave patients at risk

Emily Wolf, reporter

Across America, parents are worried. The one defense they trusted for years is no longer a viable option for their children. Families must make the tough decision between going bankrupt or staying safe, beca
use of a single product: the EpiPen Auto-Injector, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions.

Due to lack of competition in the marketplace, the EpiPen’s prices have risen to a dramatic extent and have forced many desperate families to go without the medicine they need. Those who can afford the medicine shell out upwards of $600 for a 2-pen set. This same medicine cost only $100 in 2009. Furthermore, it is suspected that this sudden rise in price is fueled not by need, but rather by corporate greed.

The company must be held accountable, lest we allow for a monopoly on the one medicine that can prevent loss of life from allergic reactions in an emergency situation.

This isn’t the first time Mylan Pharmaceuticals has been in hot water for sudden price hikes. The company settled a lawsuit in early 2012 that allowed new competitors to begin making products in 2015. The catch, however, came soon thereafter; the aforementioned competitors never came to be. An unexpected rejection of one by the FDA came in February 2016, and the other, a non-generic alternative, was pulled off the shelves due to dosing errors. This lack of competition didn’t just bolster Mylan’s monopoly, it skyrocketed it.

While this may be an economic daydream for Mylan, the implications are a legal nightmare. With all of the added publicity surrounding the company, dirty secrets are coming to light. According to Stat News, one of these secrets is the possibility of an antitrust law violation, in which Mylan killed competition for epinephrine in school districts by including a discount dependent on schools’ promises not to buy other products. Though Mylan dismisses this as false, EpiPen4School paperwork, as far back as 2014 and as recently as April 2016, supports what many lawmakers already believe. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has taken these accusations to another level and filed a subpoena against the EpiPen provider. Furthermore, two congressional committees have asked for briefings with Mylan this past month.

Many may be wondering why Mylan has gotten away with this for such a long time, and the answer is simple: discounts. The company offers multiple coupons for their customers and states that these coupons make their product both fair and affordable. The problem with this logic, however, is that it forces insurance rates and deductibles far higher than normal rates. These price hikes slowly trickle through insurance companies and employers until they cycle back into the consumer population, where they are cleverly disguised as insurance premiums. Thus, coupons do nothing except change when and where the money is being spent.

The price hikes and monopolization of the EpiPen are both immoral, economically deplorable and legally unjustifiable. Mylan Pharmaceuticals should be held responsible for their actions and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, lest we allow this to become a trend in free market businesses.

It may seem as though the average person has little to no power in this situation, but the opposite is true. Instead of boycotting epinephrine entirely and therefore forgoing their own safety, consumers can choose to write to their local senators. Round Rock’s senator, Larry Gonzales, can be reached at his campaign website. Writing to the FDA to request that epinephrine be made an over-the-counter drug, as well, will help shift the immoral practices. In order to combat Mylan and companies like it, citizens must come together, as a united force, and make the change they hope to see in national healthcare.