By Samantha Smith
In the wake of drug manufacturer Mylans’ price spike of their EpiPen epinephrine auto injector devices by 400 percent, concerns now lie in how area residents can cover the exorbitant cost.
In a CNBC article last month, Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, attributed the rise in the company’s epinephrine auto injectors to a rise in cost of “manufacturing the product, distributing the product, enhancing the product and investing.”
Dr. Coburn Allen M.D., who is the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship Director for UT Austin Dell Medical School at Dell Children’s Medical Center, said the price spike is “disturbing.”
Allen said that the price spike for the name brand EpiPen auto injectors worries him for his patients, even though he is not too sure how the elevated price will affect the hospital.
Allen, who serves at the front lines of the medical field in the emergency room, said they typically use zero to one EpiPen a day, since most patients experiencing anaphylaxis receive an EpiPen injection in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
“I know that we (Dell Children’s Medical Center) have them on hand, but the price spike is disturbing,” Allen said.
Allen said the number of epinephrine prescriptions written every year at Dell Children’s Medical Center can average 3.4 million. But a very small percentage of individuals actually use them yearly.
Allen said he is very “pro-generic unless there is compelling data otherwise,” but he is unfamiliar with Adrenaclick and any other generic form of epinephrine auto injector delivery devices that could substitute for the name brand.
“I have never seen the Adrenaclick used by anyone,” Allen said.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the generic epinephrine auto injector devices are not up to snuff, but that Mylan has done a good job in making the EpiPen auto injector brand synonymous with anaphylaxis emergencies, Allen said.
But the sudden price spike in the popular auto injectors shouldn’t alarm parents sending their children with life-threatening allergies to school without an injector.
According to the CNBC article, Bresch said that the Mylan Company has funded the EpiPen 4 Schools program, where the company gives school campuses one EpiPen 2-Pak and one EpiPen JR 2-Pak each year at no cost since 2012.
Hays CISD public information officer Tim Savoy confirmed that all Hays CISD school campuses participate in the EpiPen 4 Schools program and receive the maximum amount of EpiPens allowed for each campus.
Savoy also said that the Mylan program offers free replacement EpiPens for any that have to be used in an anaphylaxis situation for staff or students.
Dripping Springs ISD Communications Coordinator Dale Whitaker also said that Dripping Springs ISD campuses participate in Mylans’ EpiPen 4 Schools program. DSISD has the maximum amount of EpiPens dispensed by the program at each campus, Whitaker said.
But there are dangers when it comes to the price hike for individuals, Allen said. The price spike could result in patients refusing to fill their EpiPen prescriptions in order to avoid paying the $600 price tag.
“That would be a tragic circumstance,” Allen said of a patients gamble for their life resting on $600.
Even though Allen has never used any other epinephrine auto-injecting device, he said that following the directions on such a device whether it be the name brand EpiPen or a different one is paramount.
“We are really adamant about teaching patients and families how to use it (EpiPen devises) before they leave the hospital,” Allen said.