In lieu of spending $1,212 on four EpiPens, one mom in Virginia is planning to ask a doctor to fill some empty syringes with epinephrine, the drug inside the allergy injectors. She will then give the syringes to her 12-year-old son to carry around—the boy is so allergic to milk he has to wear a face mask when he goes outside.
That scenario, reported by Stat News, is perhaps the most extreme example of the many ways parents are struggling to cope with the rising price of EpiPen, a spring-loaded tool that can reverse an allergic reaction when stabbed into the thigh.
Mylan, the company that sells EpiPens, has driven up its price by more than $500 since 2009, from about $100 for a pack of two to $608.61 this year. Because they’re so essential, many people with severe allergies have more than one.
Mylan bought the device in 2007 and set out to expand its use, embarking on an aggressive marketing effort that included putting EpiPens on Disney cruise ships, according to a Bloomberg article from last year. By the time that article came out, the price was already soaring. “There is a danger with that,” pharmaceutical expert George Sillup told Bloomberg, somewhat presciently. “That could create some backlash.”