Iowans are complaining that a device used for emergency treatment during life-threatening allergic reactions is skyrocketing in price.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s hearing from dozens of constituents about the rising cost of the EpiPen.
“The cost of the device has increased more than 400% in recent years,” Grassley says. The Republican says he’s gotten nearly 50 letters in the past few weeks from Iowans who need these devices in case they have a severe reaction, by accidentally eating nuts for example, that threatens to cut off their ability to breathe.
“One Iowa father wrote that he had to pay more than $500 just for one EpiPen for his daughter,” Grassley says. “Iowans also wrote that since the pens expire after about a year, the cost is recurring.” One report says the devices sold in two-packs in 2009 for about $100. EpiPens resemble an ink pen and auto-inject epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs.
Grassley says he’s concerned the substantial price increase could limit access to a much-needed medication.”The effects of the cost increase on patients is a concern from a couple of points of view,” Grassley says, “not only to the family, but there’s also concern that school budgets might be effected because a lot of schools keep the product on hand.”
Grassley has written a letter to the CEO of Mylan, the Pennsylvania-based company that makes EpiPens, inquiring about the price hikes. “I’ve asked other questions about other pharmaceuticals and sometimes that has caused the company to wake up and see reality,” Grassley says, “in particular, the bad public relations they have when they have these sort of increases that are unjustified.”
Another fear, Grassley says, is that the bounding expense of the devices could create an unsafe situation for patients as people try to make their own EpiPen kits from raw materials.