OPINION: Mylan’s Epi-Pen Epic Fail


 Dangerous allergic reactions to things like bee stings or foods are no longer life-threatening-

For a price.

And since 2007, that price – the price of Epi-Pens – has been getting higher and higher, rising from $100 in 2009 to over $600 this year for a twinpack, even though epinephrine itself doesn’t cost a whole lot and is needed by a wide variety of people. Mylan’s control over the Epi-Pen market has further increased after their competitor Auvi-Q withdrew from the market, making Mylan one of the main producers of Epi-Pens and thus one of the main providers of epinephrine. And, as the price hike suggests, Mylan has taken full advantage of the situation, even if it means people will have to empty their pockets so they won’t be killed by a bee sting or a handful of peanuts – and the amount people have to fork over only grows larger once the particulars of this product are taken into account.

An important thing to note is that the cost of stated earlier is effectively doubled due to the fact that at least 2 Epi-Pens need to be available at all time in case it takes a user more than 15 minutes to get to emergency care. This means that a pack of 2 has to be used for school or work, and another pack of 2 has to be purchased for the home for each person with severe allergies. To make matters worse, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has a daughter with severe allergies, notes that Epi-Pens expire, requiring families to purchase new packs every year, turning the Epi-Pens into yet another yearly expense. Now let’s do the math – if a family includes two people who need Epi-Pens, and they’re able to get packs for $400 with their insurance, they need to purchase four packs each year for a total of $1600 each year.

This is an outrageous price, especially when it only takes “$1 worth of a drug to keep [Americans with severe allergies] alive,” as Emily Willingham of Forbes notes.

Shortly after the outrage began, Mylan’s CEO released a statement about the increased prices, blaming them on a broken healthcare system. This is just Mylan sticking themselves in the proverbial thigh. As anyone who has ever messed something up can tell you, admitting your fault and not pointing your finger is the best way to deal with a mistake or show that you’re ready to make amends for what you’ve done. Even if Mylan’s statement has truth to it, it looks like a flimsy attempt to save face by claiming, “It’s not my fault!”

Interestingly, while Mylan gave coupons of $300 to those paying the full price of $600 dollars, it has not promised to reduce the overall price of the Epi-Pens themselves, or even promise not to raise the price even more, which sets off my own “Bravo Sierra” alarm. This  becomes an even more obvious band-aid solution when one notes that only 4% of Mylan customers are paying the full price out-of-pocket.

All in all, I could criticize Mylan even more, but it seems (for now) that I don’t even need to because they’re already paying the price for their moral bankruptcy – a flood of bad press despite their attempts to stem the tide and even provide a cheaper, generic Epi-Pen – although it must be noted that this isn’t the first time Mylan has fallen victim to controversy. So while they may seem to be suffering from the backlash of their actions right now, there’s a chance that they won’t be paying the full price for their foolishness after all.
Do you or any of your family members need Epi-Pens? Post your thoughts on Mylan’s incident in the comments section below.