says drug company is putting profits ahead of patients
ATLANTA— SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 — An allergy specialist in Atlanta is crying foul on the recent Epipen price hike, saying the high priced epinephrine injector is putting patients lives at risk, particularly children.
Local allergist Dr. Paul Rabinowitz is especially incensed over the price increase because he sees a number of patients whose family budgets are already stretched thin. “The governor signed a bill last year that allows schools and other public places to obtain and keep Epipens on hand for emergencies,” he said. “Schools purchase them (Epipens) to have on hand for any children with allergies, particularly acute food and insect allergies, and for acute asthma attacks. However, many school districts also require the parents to purchase their own Epipens for the child to carry to school.
“The price increase over the past 9 years is totally unacceptable,” he said. “It has increased from about $100 per two pack to over $600. We believe the price is unfair, is gouging consumers, and putting children’s lives at risk.
“Parents should not have to choose between buying food, paying the mortgage or spending their money on medicine for their children.”
He said many families purchase multiple packs to have on hand for emergencies. “The shelf life of Epipen is about 12 months,” he said. “We have families spending thousands on them. One mother of a child who is acutely allergic to peanuts and milk tries to keep 4 packs on hand. Needless to say, they are hurting financially.”
Mylan, manufacturer of the Epipen, recently announced the release of a generic version of the product, priced just below $300. Dr. Rabinowitz reaction? “I think it’s a PR move, price of the Epipen is now down to $300.” The cost of a 30 millilitre bottle of epinephrine, about 100 doses, is about thirty dollars, he said. “It’s the exact same medicine.”
Epinephrine, a man-made form of adrenaline readily available and fairly inexpensive, is used as emergency medication used to treat acute reactions by the body, called“anaphylaxis.”
Epipens, however, are a special device that allows anyone to administer the emergency medication with a minimum of training. Originally developed for the military as a method to inject soldiers with an antidote quickly in the event of a chemical attack, the device was adapted for use with epinephrine and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1987.
Ownership of the Epipen product changed hands in 2007, and that’s when the price began to spike. In 2007, the Epipen was earning about $200 million per year; now, it’s estimated the current owner, Mylan, is earning $1.1 Billion per year from Epipen sales.
Analysts say the lack of real competition is what allows Mylan to increase the price at will. The latest price spike came when a competing product, Auvi-Q, was recalled last year.
While Mylan has made several moves to help consumers afford the product, such as discount coupons, reduced co-pays, and plans to release a generic version of the Epipen, Dr. Rabinowitz says those measures don’t go far enough.
“We have to determine a way to get these children the medication they need, medication that might save their lives at some point. We need the company to realize the position they’re putting these families in — and to put the patient, not profits, first,” he said.
Anaphylaxissymptoms could include swelling of the lips, throat, or tongue; shortness of breath, or trouble breathing; stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea; dizziness and/or fainting; and skin rashes, itching and hives. These symptoms can flare within minutes of ingestion or exposure to the allergen, and if not treated quickly, could result in the patient’s death.
Allergists are specialized medical doctors who undergo about two years of additional training and a fellowship in an allergy and asthma program. Dr. Rabinowitz is certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and has practiced in the Atlanta area for more than 30 years, and is frequently interviewed in local and national media for his expertise on allergies, asthma and immunology.
For media inquiries, please contact Cherie Nelson at (404) 255-9286 or visit www.allergyatlanta.com.
Company Name: Allergy & Asthma Consultants, PC
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