EpiPen priced more than $600, while experts argue its medicinal value at $1

How are people juggling with EpiPen price hike?
Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 10:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 at 3:42 PM EST
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(WTVM) - A life-saving drug for severe allergy sufferers is costing families in the Valley and across the country a lot more money.

Now lawmakers are accusing the company Mylan, who produces it, of violating anti-trust laws.

Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus has clients who have felt the burn of the price hike. Different pharmacies buy and sell prescription drugs at different costs, but Dinglewood now pays more than $730 for EpiPens that just a few years ago cost them $60.

"It's the medicine that is the most helpful thing if you're having a major allergic reaction," said Dr. Robert Cartwright with the Allergy Center at Brookstone. 

The EpiPen is also one of the only options for treating a life-threatening allergic reaction, which has forced some in the Valley to pay exponentially more for the mechanism than it may be worth.

"It's nothing in the world but Epinephrine which is just cheap as dirt," said Terry Hurley, Dinglewood owner and pharmacist.

Experts say EpiPens hold about $1 worth of Epinephrine, yet are now costing hundreds of dollars each. On top of that, pharmacists at Dinglewood and Columbus allergists say the device only lasts between six months and a year, then must be replaced.

"A lot of people don't have insurance that have to have these. People who have children with peanut allergies are having to make decisions now whether to buy this or make a house payment," said Hurley.

To top that off, experts recommend having multiple EpiPens, like one at school or work, and one at home to be fully protected.

Dr.Cartwright says EpiPen purchases have spiked recently, with back to school demands.

"People do need multiple EpiPens in order to make sure they have enough in case there is a reaction. With the start of school, we've definitely had a lot of parents needing an extra set," said Dr. Cartwright.

The price hike has hit those without insurance and those with high detectable plans especially hard. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, who produces and sells the drug, says it has given 700,000 free EpiPens to schools and coupons to families unable to pay for the medication.

Doctors stress that EpiPens are the best emergency treatment for severe reactions and Benadryl will not substitute its effects.

For those looking to find affordable options of the medicine, there's an online coupon for the EpiPen, and you can go to goodrx.com to compare local prices at different pharmacies.

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