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EpiPens No Longer Affordable For Many, Puts People With Severe Allergies At Risk

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Close to one in 13 children has a food allergy, and many parents rely on EpiPens for immediate relief and life-saving treatment.

However, the cost of these pens has significantly increased by more than 480% in the last decade, giving rise to concerns that they may no longer be an affordable option for families on a budget, causing them to look into cheaper, but more dangerous, alternatives, Tech Times reports.

An EpiPen has epinephrine, a synthetic adrenaline that treats severe allergic reactions. Epinephrine adjusts blood pressure in people suffering allergic reactions, improves breathing, boosts heart rates, reduces wheezing and lessens swelling or blotchiness.

Leon Tarasenko, a pharmacist, says, “Within the last two months, we’ve had about three patients who had issues with the price of an EpiPen,” adding that the customers did not purchase them. He says,

If they don’t have [the EpiPen], it could mean life or death.

In 2009, a 2-pack of EpiPens caused just over $100. That has surged to more than $600 today. The drug only costs a few dollars, so the EpiPen manufacturer actually charges much for its trusted brand.

Mylan, EpiPen’s maker, has a monopoly on the market since its main competitor recalled its products last year. Mylan has spent millions on marketing efforts, donating EpiPens to schools across the United States to ensure familiarity.

Its campaigns paid off, as the number of people using EpiPens has increased by 67% over the last seven years. EpiPens became Mylan’s bread-and-butter, accounting for around 40% of its profits. In 2015 alone, some 3.6 million prescriptions were written for the device. Parents whose kids have severe allergies regularly stock and replace the injector.

The sharp uptick in EpiPen prices has caused people to turn to methods such as carrying simple syringes filled with epinephrine. While a lot cheaper, accidentally injecting this into a vein rather than a muscle can have deadly consequences. Others have been using their EpiPens past its expiration date, even though the drug is less effective when stored for over a year.

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