AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Severe allergies can be deadly if you don’t have an EpiPen on hand, so soaring prices for the emergency devices are having serious effects.
The price of EpiPens has risen 550 percent since 2009, which is causing financial strain for some and even putting lives on the line.
“I’ve had people turn them down in the past month just because they can’t afford them,” said pharmacist Laura Knotts of Parks Pharmacy in North Augusta, SC.
“For me, my allergy is bad enough that I cannot take that risk,” said Shell Berry, who is allergic to peanuts.
Since last October, Berry’s EpiPens for her and her daughter have gone up from around $400 to around $600, she said.
She does have insurance, which has kept her co-pay at around $100. For those without insurance, it can be much worse.
“I had a patient that had to go to the ER last night, got an EpiPen prescription called in, does not have commercial insurance… Had to pay out of pocket. Coupon was not valid for anyone who did not have insurance. You had to have commercial insurance to use the coupon.So she had to pay out of pocket the full cost,” Knotts said. “It was well over $600.”
EpiPens expire around every 12 months, which means you have to keep restocking them. Most people with allergies need to have a few of them on hand.
“You really want to have one at home, one at school, one in a travel bag,” Berry said. “You want to have that ready to use immediately, which requires having several of them. Which is expensive–very expensive.”
For some, that’s just not an option.
“They have to choose,” Knotts said. “Are they going to risk it? And hope they don’t come into contact with something that causes anaphylactic reaction or are they going to find the $400 or $500 to pay for it?”
EpiPens work by delivering a jolt of hormone epinephrine, better known as a adrenaline, which can reverse the life-threatening effects of anaphylactic shock.