The soaring price of EpiPens

EpiPen allergy allergies anaphylaxis
(Intropin/Wikimedia Commons)

According to a 2013 study conducted by the CDC, food allergies among children increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. Today, an estimated one in 13 school-aged children has a life-threatening allergy.

Allergists and business analysts alike agree that the EpiPen (an epinephrine auto-injector manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Mylan, Inc.) has evolved into the go-to medication to reverse the harmful effects of anaphylaxis.

But as Bloomberg News analyst Cynthia Koons writes, while Mylan’s marketing strategy—based on a public awareness campaign about childhood allergies—led to a surge in demand, it also fueled a surge in pricing. Since 2007 (the year Mylan purchased the drug brand from Merck KGaA), Koons says, EpiPen wholesale prices have risen approximately 400 percent.

The price jump is hitting patients directly. The single-dose, wholesale cost was $57 during the late 2000s. Today, after insurance discounts, a twin-pack (the injectors are only sold in twin packs) has a $415 price tag:

“[W]hile EpiPen has given countless parents a sense of security that their children can go out in the world safely, the device’s soaring price—up 32 percent in the past year alone—has forced some families to make difficult choices in order to afford the life-saving medicine. The price increases are among the biggest of any top-selling brand drug, according to DRX, a unit of Connecture that tracks drug pricing.”

Learn more about allergy testing and treatment options at Boston Children’s upcoming CME course, Pediatric Asthma & Allergy for Primary Care Providers.