Opinion: EpiPens


EpiPen®, a brand of epinephrine auto-injector devices, has excessively increased the price for its auto-injectors. Epinephrine auto-injectors were initially designed and produced to potentially stop anaphylaxis, lethal allergic reactions, but ironically, the price for the device is the more lethal factor. On the pharmaceutical’s  website, the corporation claims that it has “recently expanded their Patient Assistance Program for uninsured and underinsured patients” who obviously cannot afford expensive medication; however, EpiPen® directed its consumer market towards the wealthy to profit in lieu of the common people, the group that includes more individuals in need of the medication. This price increase is undeniably unjustified; medication should be provided purely for the well-being of individuals and not for business profits.

The brand has recently increased its price from approximately $100 in 2007 to $600 for a two-pack of the emergency treatment. This significant increase in pricing has raised concerns over the reasons behind the massive adjustment. From the company’s perspective, because the medication is a necessity and not a luxury good, consumers will have to purchase the product regardless of the price as long as they can afford it; hence, it makes economic sense for the company to raise the price of the product. However, multiplying the price by six over the course of nine years is insane, even if currency inflation is taken into account. Although the company will probably profit from the drastic price increase, is it moral or lawful to do so?

According to Mylan Specialty LP, the company that produces EpiPen®, suppliers and intermediaries have “forced” them to increase their selling prices for the life-saving devices. However, that is obviously a mere excuse; price increases are normal in the consumer market, but 400% increases are nonsensical and unprecedented. In addition, two experts of the field have stated that EpiPen® should cost consumers at most $30. The head of medical technologies for PA Consulting Group has informed the public that for each unit of EpiPen®, the plastic tube, cap, and needle cost two to four dollars. The actual epinephrine inside the device costs less than a mere dollar. In addition, claims have been made that the technology provided that EpiPen® is not even technological, in that little to no improvements or technological advancements have been implemented upon previous treatments.

The average income for an American household is an estimated $53,000, and to have just two EpiPen® auto-injectors cost more than one percent is an extreme amount; for instance, if anaphylaxis occurs ten times in a year,five percent of the average household’s income is consumed. Two pieces of plastic and cheap chemicals cost the equivalent of a month-long supply of food, a new phone, or most importantly, more affordable forms of medication, such as auto-injectors produced by Amedra Pharmaceuticals LLC and Sanofi/Synthelabo Inc, both costing less than $30. What makes EpiPen® auto-injectors made by Mylan Specialty LP so special that their prices are almost 20 times higher? Furthermore, schools and educational institutions are common consumers of EpiPen®. This medication is clearly critical to the American population and implementing the price increase is unjust.

If Mylan Specialty LP truly produced EpiPen® to save lives, raising the price by such a drastic amount would be completely counterintuitive, the medication would be almost made exclusively to the wealthy and the large population of the middle and lower classes would be neglected. With all forms of medical care being extremely expensive, we do not need cheap plastic tubes with unaffordable medicine. Although the price increase may raise profits for Mylan, increasing the cost for everyone else by such a significant amount is immoral and unlawful.

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