Patients, hospitals struggle with rising cost of EpiPen

Patients, hospitals struggle with rising cost of EpiPen

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The cost of a potentially life-saving drug continues to rise.

EpiPen, which is used to reverse allergic reactions, is now hundreds of dollars more than it was in the past and that's having a serious affect on those with allergies as well as medical providers.

"In 2004, the price of an EpiPen was probably $40 to $50. Now in 2016, in some cases it's $500 to $600 for a twin pack," said Phil Nelson, the manager of the pharmacy department at Mercy St. Vincent Hospital.

He says a number of reasons are contributing to the increase in cost.

"This is economics. It's only available, it's a product that's important to take care of a patient. And you know what, the company can charge a higher price on it because it's not readily available," said Nelson.

According to Nelson, the drug can potentially save someone's life who is having an allergic reaction. And with no real generic version or comparable second option that leaves the alternatives, which have created some issues.

"It's a medication safety issue and a patient safety issue. The fact that we have to make a determination are we going to use the lower, less expensive product and potentially risk causing harm to a patient because we can't pay for the EpiPen," said Nelson.

He says it's unfortunate that the manufacturer would charge so much for something people need.

"I think it's a little bit unethical and socially irresponsible on the part of the drug company that the cost is so high," said Nelson.

WTOL 11 reached out to the manufacturer Mylan to find out why the cost is increasing. They sent us a statement that says in part...

"With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise. This shift, along with other insurance landscape changes, has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost."

Mylan went on to say they are committed to coming up with solutions to address the issue.

Right now they do offer coupons for the EpiPen medication.

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