Kansas City,
16:26 PM

Patients frustrated by EpiPen price increases


Patients with life-threatening allergies are facing skyrocketing prices for a critical medication.

Prices for an EpiPen have increased 480 percent in less than 10 years, and many patients are now telling doctors they can’t afford it.

An EpiPen is a device that allows the injection of epinephrine, which can work to quickly relieve symptoms of severe allergic reactions or other dangerous medical conditions.

EpiPens cost about $100 each seven years ago and cost more than $600 today. The company is defending the price increases, but doctors say they're putting lives in jeopardy.

Dr. Jay Portnoy, the director of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said he sees allergy patients all the time who need to keep two EpiPens with them at all times.

“There’s no reason somebody should not have the medicine like this if they need it because it can be lifesaving,” he said. “I have patients who can’t afford their EpiPens. They literally have a food allergy and they live in fear but can’t get the medicine.”

A major competitor to the EpiPen quit making the medication, giving the company more of a monopoly. While it’s estimated the EpiPen costs $1 to make, drug companies said there are other costs to consider.

Portnoy said the maker has long since recovered the cost of research and development for EpiPens.

“There is no excuse to have a really high cost for these products,” he said.

He said patients who have trouble affording EpiPens should tell their doctor they’re struggling to pay for them.

“In many cases, we can get financial aid,” he said.

He said another less expensive option is the generic Adrenaclick, which is less popular and less easy to use. He also encouraged people to shop around because prices for EpiPens vary at different pharmacies.



See the full story via KMBC 9.

Learn more about Children's Mercy's Division of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.