Livid liberals have rent their garments over the high price of EpiPens, convenient devices designed to deliver a dose of epinephrine to children and others suffering from anaphylaxis, potentially very severe reactions to allergies or bee stings. The cost recently was increased to $600 for a kit of two. It was $100 when Mylan, the evil corporation in question, acquired the product. The news media have ramped up the feeding frenzy by breathless reportage highlighting a poor family or two and attacking “Big Pharma.” That they did not report the alternatives shows they are less concerned with the substantive issues than with the subtext that free market greed has once again failed us – when will we get single-payer, 100% Federally controlled , reliable, caring, socialized medicine, their whining seems to imply? The fly in the ointment is of course that in medical matters we have nothing approaching a free market and have not had for a very long time.
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (signed by Obama Nov. 2013,) was passed after heavy lobbying by Mylan. (We note that the CEO of Mylan is the daughter of W. Va. Senator Manchin, a Democrat. Look away, no smoke here.) This legislation encourages the use of “auto-injectors” through financial incentives to states enact laws to require the devices This term really means EpiPens, as they are by far the best known auto-injectors currently available. There was no competition after Mylan’s only competitor issued a voluntary recall over miscalibration of the dosage.
But there is an auto-injector alternative, which is unsurprisingly little reported:
But EpiPen isn’t the only epinephrine injector on the market; the authorized generic of Adrenaclick (epinephrine auto-injector), is a cheaper option—we found it for $142 at Walmart and Sam’s Club using a coupon from GoodRx. While generic Adrenaclick isn’t the same technology and is used differently than EpiPen, both auto-injectors contain the same drug, epinephrine, available in the same dosages, says Barbara Young, Pharm.D., of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. (Source: Consumers Reports. Full article here.)
It should surprise no one that a home-brew substitute for the EpiPen can be made for less than $10. Just buy a vial of epinephrine, a syringe, and a case like an Altoid tin. Full, physician-approved instructions here. Using a syringe should not be a problem. Many inject their diabetic dogs. Many diabetics inject themselves daily. Just avoid injecting into a vein. EMTs administer epinephrine this way.
Failure of the free market? No, failure of Big Government, for legislation mandating EpiPens instead of substitutes regardless of costs and largely restricting the use of syringes in schools to licensed nurses. Thus we have $10 worth of product transformed into $600 of expense thanks to compassionate government. Not to speak of another government failure for a tax regimen leading many companies, including Mylan, to move headquarters abroad in a corporate inversion. (Inversion has been on the mind of the Obama administration for quite a while.)
Troglo (L. H. Kevil)