Epipen prices cause widespread shock and anger — but it’s nothing new

October 11, 2016 — by Ashley Feng

Here’s a scenario: A struggling, single working mother of three with severe food allergies simply can’t afford medical insurance. A pack of two EpiPens at the local pharmacy are sold for $600. Which option does she choose — risking a life-threatening allergic reaction or cutting her children’s meals?

In an attempt to cushion their already overflowing bank accounts, pharmaceutical drug companies are pushing consumers in need of life-saving medicine into financial crises. Mylan, the manufacturers of EpiPens, has been the prime example lately.

EpiPens are injections that contain epinephrine, a drug that narrows blood vessels and opens airways into the lungs, effectively delaying life-threatening allergic reactions until proper medical attention arrives.

Back in 2009, a two-pack of Mylan EpiPens was $100. That same two-pack has seen a 500 percent price increase in just seven years.

Regular citizens who need these life-saving EpiPens are forced to pay $500 more than what they paid just a few years ago. That $500 that could go to paying for education, meals,  or other bills.

The EpiPen markup is not an isolated case. Remember Martin Shkreli?

The former hedge-fund manager and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals was embroiled in a nationwide scandal over the price raise of Daraprim, an anti-parasite used to treat toxoplasmosis and prevent malaria and other infections. Shkreli hiked up the cost of the pill overnight from $13.50 to $750 — a 5,556 percent increase.

His excuse? New drugs used to treat rare conditions need additional funding — funding that comes from already financially burdened patients.

Shkreli’s price hike was, albeit one of the more drastic cases, only one in a storm of price gouging by corrupt pharmaceutical drug companies.

Yet another drug company that followed this immoral method was Valeant Pharmaceuticals. In 2015, Valeant increased the prices of all their brand name drugs by 66 percent, leaving consumers to scramble for financial support.

All of these cases — Shkreli, Valeant and Mylan —  are indicators that drug companies must stop their price hiking before these life-saving medications are unaccessible to the public. The federal government should follow the time-tested strategy of regulating the pharmaceutical companies to introduce competition and prevent dangerous monopolies.