September 21, 2016

EpiPen’s new price affects Cleveland State students

William Roane got a prescription for his first EpiPen when he was 8 years old. A bee had stung him and he had an allergic reaction. Since then, he has had to purchase EpiPens —no matter the cost — in case he was stung by a bee.

“It doesn’t really seem fair to have just one company making all of [the EpiPens],” Roane said. “But maybe that is because the ingredients, like adrenaline, shouldn’t be available to anyone that wants them.”
Roane is a senior communication major at Cleveland State University, and he is one of the many students affected by the rise in cost of EpiPens.

An EpiPen is a medical device that contains epinephrine, which is commonly known as adrenaline, in an injectable tube for personal use.

Sheldon Kaplan, a biochemist engineer, invented the first way to self-inject epinephrine for military use in chemical warfare, according to Business Insider. Soon, he realized the epinephrine could be used for allergic reactions as well, and he created the EpiPen.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the EpiPen in 1987 and Meridian Medical Technologies (MMT) bought it. In 2007, MMT announced that Mylan Pharmaceuticals would begin marketing and selling some of its products, including the EpiPen.

In 2007, MMT was making about $200 million per year from the EpiPen. Today, it makes more than $1.1 billion from the device, according to Business Insider.

MMT now holds about 90 percent of the epinephrine market, which means 90 percent of people with an allergic reaction get their EpiPens from Mylan.

The price of a set of two EpiPens has increased from $100 in 2007, to $600 today. Mylan is offering $300-off coupons, but if someone doesn’t have health insurance, all of that money comes out of pocket.

No exact numbers exist as to how many students at Cleveland State University have EpiPens, but the Wall Street Journal reported that 3.6 million Americans ordered an EpiPen in 2015.

Shelby Wilson, a first year health science major and employee at Cleveland State’s Health and Wellness Center, said that the Center does carry EpiPens that students can use in the case of an emergency.

“We have [EpiPens] in stock here,” she said. “We can administer them to students, but their insurance will be billed for the cost of the product.”

If students need a prescription for an EpiPen, they can stop by the Health and Wellness Center and see one of the doctors.

“Our doctors can prescribe them, but they have to see the student a few times first.” Wilson said.

It is unclear whether Cleveland State police carry EpiPens with them. Cleveland’s transit police and the Cleveland Police Department do not carry them, but most Emergency Medical Service personnel (EMS) do carry them.

The Viking Market Place, located on the second floor of the Student Center, also does not have them available, but it does list any ingredients that are present in its foods that may cause an allergic reaction.

Roane tries to avoid his allergy at all costs because of the high cost of EpiPens and the lack of availability.
“I never thought that I would see EpiPens become such an issue,” Roane said. “They are about $550 dollars now, and I’m not sure how much insurance can really help.”



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