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Families Cut Back To Afford EpiPens

Posted at 5:35 PM, Aug 24, 2016

Local families have had to make financial cut backs in order to afford the rising cost of EpiPens for people with severe allergies.

Lawmakers have pressured drug maker Mylan to answer the reasons behind the nearly 500% increase of the lifesaving drug EpiPen.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether or not anti-trust laws were violated. 

The drug counteracts anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can lead to death.

"People have great difficulty with breathing, their airways will close and their blood pressure will drop," Vanderbilt University Medical Center Professor of Medicine Doctor Stokes Peebles said.

The drug used to cost $100 five to seven years ago, but it has now jumped to $600. 

Doctors have said there is no competition to help drive prices back down.

"I'm very upset with the price," Dr. Peebles, who has family members use EpiPens, told NewsChannel 5.  "It truly is a lifesaving medication that is now out of the reach of ordinary people."

Families have learned how to budget in order to purchase the drug. It is recommended to have more than one EpiPen at all times. 

"It's devastating, it's ridiculous and I'm upset about it because I have to get it," Tara Shea, an Antioch mother said.

Shea recently used an EpiPen on her 6-year-old daughter who is extremely allergic to peanuts. She purchased a box for $100 with insurance last year.

"It'll be $1,200 for at least two," Shea added. "That's a lot of money."

Dr. Peebles said if you were to purchase an EpiPen over the counter with no insurance at a nearby pharmacy, it would cost $739. 

EpiPens are considered expired after one year. The effects of the drug begin to lose strength as time goes on.
 
According to Dr. Peebles, the drug can last after the expiration date. There still may be more than half of epinephrine available, which can still be lifesaving if you're on the way to the hospital. 
 
However, doctors recommend to renew your dose yearly.