People Are DIY-ing EpiPens Because Costs Are Too High

The lifesaving tool can cost more than $600 per pen.

Photo credit: Greg Friese (cropped), CC BY 2.0.

Here’s a disappointing—and unfortunately not surprising—story from Boing Boing:

Epipens have more than quintupled in price since 2004

Epipens — self-injection sticks carried by people with deadly allergies, which have to be replaced twice a year — were developed by NASA at taxpayer expense, were patented by a government scientist who receives no royalties, require no marketing, and have gone from as little as $60 each to up to $606 in a few short years (during which time the company has switched to selling them exclusively in two-packs).

Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow cites a report from Stat, which reminds us that even people with health insurance often end up paying for EpiPens out of pocket, since the cost falls under their several-thousand-dollar deductible.

Then Stat shares even more heartbreaking news: people are being advised, by their doctors, to DIY their own EpiPens by carrying syringes full of epinephrine.

Soaring EpiPen price spurs allergy patients to resort to syringes

As long as patients are educated about how to use the syringes, he said they’re “99 percent as good” as the EpiPens. “Is that ideal? Well, no, not necessarily,” [Dr. Richard Lockey] said. “It’s better to have an auto-injector, yes.”

But Lockey said syringes make sense for patients who can’t afford the EpiPen. “Everyone wants to drive around in a Cadillac,” he said, “but not everybody does.”

That’s not a fair comparison! How about saying “Everyone wants to not have their airways close, but not everyone can afford a tool designed to prevent that from happening.”

Stat reports that it isn’t just individuals who are using syringes in lieu of EpiPens; firefighters and EMTs are also being trained to use syringes to save money.

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