Romper

Why Are EpiPen Prices Spiking? The Increase Is Putting Parents In A Terrible Position

For parents of kids with life-threatening allergies, carrying around an EpiPen isn't a luxury, it can mean the difference between life and death. Which is why it's ridiculous that the price of EpiPens has skyrocketed since 2009 by more than 400 percent. Why are EpiPen prices spiking? The market is unfortunately dominated by one producer.

EpiPens deliver only about $1 worth of epinephrine to combat severe allergic reactions to everyday stuff like bee stings and peanuts, according to Bloomberg. But aggressive marketing and mandates that every school stock EpiPens have given Mylan, the company which manufactures and sells the pens, the go-ahead to charge whatever it wants. When Mylan first bought the rights to sell EpiPens, they cost about $57 each. Now, even after insurance and other discounts, a package of two EpiPens averages a cost of more than $400, according to Bloomberg.

Mylan has pushed the market for EpiPens into a billion dollar business through little more than marketing. The product hasn't changed, just the pricing and strategy. As for Mylan, the company said in a statement that it's the changing health insurance landscape that's to blame for the rising cost of EpiPens. Mylan spokeswoman Julie Knell told Romper by email that the company offers options for co-pay assistance and coupons to help drive down the cost to consumers.

"Patients are calling and saying they can't afford it," Dr. Douglas McMahon, a Minnesota allergy specialist told NBC News. "They're between a rock and a hard place."

Former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders doesn't think so and released a statement about the soaring price of EpiPens, according to NBC News.

There are companies and doctors trying to develop an alternative to EpiPens and offer a cheaper alternative for parents of kids with allergies.

Dr. McMahon is working on getting the FDA to approve his own $50 alternative, he told NBC, but that process alone can cost about $1.5 million he said. "When epinephrine only costs a few cents, but they're going up to $500, personally I don't think that's ethically responsible," he said.

There's another potential, cheaper competing product in development and awaiting FDA approval from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, but it's not clear when that could hit the market, according to Bloomberg.