Are We “Over-reacting” to the EpiPen Price Increase?

An EpiPen is a device designed for people who suffer from allergic reactions. When someone feels a reaction coming on, they inject the EpiPen into the muscle on their outer thigh, and the medicine quickly gets to work narrowing blood vessels and opening airways, which in turn begins to stop the reaction. EpiPen was prescribed to an estimated 3.6 million Americans in 2015 alone to help with their allergies. This life-saving device has found itself the subject of controversy lately, because the price has been raised over 400% making it nearly impossible for some people to afford to continue using it, especially since the EpiPen only lasts a year, and children in school must have one at home and school.

At the center of the problem is Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen. Since 2007, as the price of the EpiPen 2 pack has increased from under one hundred dollars to over six hundred dollars, she has also raised her own salary over 600% from 2.4 million dollars in 2007 to 18.9 million dollars in 2015. Bresch happens to be the daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who receives large contributions from Mylan Inc, and promotes policies that give drug companies more power. 

When asked why the price of the medicine was raised, a spokesperson for Mylan said that the price increase “better reflects important product features and the value the product provides.” I can definitely understand how it is fair to charge a premium for a good product, but considering that it costs less than four dollars to produce an EpiPen, this is nothing but blatant price gouging!

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar recently called for a federal investigation into the price change which is what catapulted this issue into the public eye. Although government intervention could help, you could also say government is to blame for this issue altogether. Most developed countries use their negotiating power to get drugs for low prices through a streamlined process. In the U.S., even government sponsored prescription drug purchasers, like Medicare, are unable to negotiate pricing at all.

The strongest force for change in this country is a group of people coming together and saying “this is not okay!” It’s time we stop hearing about things like this and brushing it off as status quo. If you are mad about this make sure you tell family and friends, or call your representatives in Congress. The next price gouged medicine could just be one you rely on.