No Ifs, Ands or Nuts

In the past couple years, we have gotten very familiar with the concept things going “viral”. It seems like every week there is something new that people are either excited or enraged about. If you’ve been keeping up with social media and various news publications lately you’d know that one of the things people have been absolutely beside themselves about is an increasingly frustrating dilemma — prescription drug prices. More specifically there has been an immense public outcry over a very certain prescription drug, the EpiPen.

For those of you who don’t know the EpiPen is a life-saving medication and administration device that helps combat severe allergic reactions that can often lead to anaphylaxis or the closing of the throat which makes it impossible to breathe. In the past few years the price of this drug has gone from $100 to $600 and Mylan, the company that owns the patent on this drug has made it impossible for any generic substitutes to enter the market. While this might seem like a moral dilemma and another victim of “big pharma”, this issue hits extremely close to home for me.

When I was 2 years old, my dad decided to share his peanut butter ice cream with me on one hot summer afternoon. While this seems harmless enough, I ended up in the emergency room because as it turns out I have a life threatening allergy to peanuts. I can’t tell you the countless times during my 22 years that I have accidentally consumed peanuts or encountered a restaurant that doesn’t notify its patrons that they use peanut oil. I have spent multiple days in the emergency rooms and unfortunately I have been the owner of countless EpiPens. Luckily in my case, my family has been financially secure enough to provide me with this prescription over the past 22 years but not every individual with a peanut allergy is as lucky. According to the CDC, as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies and that in 2008 there was an 18 percent increase in food allergy among children between 1997 and 2007.

While this topic has recently garnered a lot of media attention, this problem is not new by any means. There have been countless stories over the years of children who have passed away from food allergies at their elementary schools, consumers who have gotten extremely sick because restaurants haven’t properly written their menus, and significant others who have passed away from kissing their loved ones. Not to sound clichéd, but food allergies are a matter of life and death and the fact that a pharmaceutical company is trying to capitalize on that fact is absolutely repugnant.

In the past few weeks, Senate and Presidential candidates alike have spoken out against Mylan and their out gouging price structure on this drug. Last week, Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, announced that due to all the backlash, Mylan would create a generic version of the EpiPen that would cost $300 as opposed to $600. While this is a step in the right direction, this battle is still far from over and this drug should be made available to all individuals who require it at a price point that is affordable to all.