How to be Nutfree, Mom Things, Uncategorized

My New Louboutins, OH I MEAN EPI PENS!

The EPI PEN that we kept at my daughter’s school last May SAVED HER LIFE. Wait. Let me say that again.

SAVED HER LIFE!

Yes. Our 5 year-old daughter suffers from life- threatening nut allergies where she has an anaphylactic response to any nut that she happens to eat. This allergy is not a choice. She was born with this very severe allergy.  Because it’s so severe, we keep epi pens:

  1. at home
  2. at school/backpack
  3. in mom’s purse
  4. at Grandmas house

That is a total of 4 epi pens at the current rate of $608.61 = $2,434.44 yearly. Epi pens expire every single year. This isn’t a one time purchase.

Yes, my husband is a physician, so automatically you’d think we have amazing, affordable insurance. Our insurance is good; however, we pay a very high premium.

Our prescription drug coverage on an epi pen with Physicians Plus Insurance is 80%, so we are paying $800 each year on EPI PENS alone. During the three years we have had to use EPI, we’ve spent $800 x 3 = $2,400 JUST TO KEEP HER SAFE. This is what is recommended by her physician and specialist. I am sure my math here is working out to be much better than most. Many people do not carry this many EpiPens because of cost.

Just to keep this real or completely unreal, that’s about 4 pairs of the designer Christian Louboutin shoes. You know, the red soles? What else could we do with this insane amount of money spent on an injector that I hopefully wont have to use and put into a garbage can when the expiration date comes up?  How about 16 weeks worth of groceries? Eighty trips to the gas station to fill your car completely. A very nice vacation to an all-inclusive resort?  A super nice holiday for the kids? I could go on and on as to how to use that money.

Do you see where I’m going here? With the soaring costs of this medication to keep my daughter safe, we are making sacrifices, and by WE, I mean the entire nut-allergic community.

Why put extra costs on an already costly allergy? Did you know that SoyNut butter is between $5 and $7 per jar? What about all these nut-free items made in nut-free facilities? Those aren’t cheap. Asthma, eczma and allergies are all lumped together and in many cases if you have one, say asthma, you likely have either eczema or allergies, or all three. We are lucky to have allergies to food, and asthma (of which our special inhaler is NOT covered by insurance, so add another $50 each month for daily inhaler).

Our family’s story is hardly a sad one. I’m grateful for the coverage we get. Last week I read a blog post about a family with two kids with life threatening allergies who give up all luxury items, no summer vacations, no new school supplies, no dining out, no new school clothes, nothing. They scrape by because their insurance covers a minimum amount of this medication and they have two kids with life threatening allergies. Can you imagine?  They both work, have jobs, have insurance, live in a decent home, doing the best that they can, but because of these medications and the increase in price, they can’t afford to do anything else?! What kind of life is that?! Trapped by your prescription drug costs to stay ALIVE?!

The argument noted in the CBS news article yesterday stated, “this price increase should not be a big deal since 90% of Americans are insured.” I assure you this is a HUGE deal since having insurance does not mean that you are going to have your drugs covered.

I found a study published by the US National Laboratory of Medicine, NIH on the demographics of people needing epinephrine for severe allergies.

***

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The epidemiology of anaphylaxis is uncertain, especially its geographic distribution.

OBJECTIVE:

To address this deficit, we examined regional rates of EpiPen prescriptions in the United States.

METHODS:

EpiPen prescriptions in 2004 were obtained for all 50 states and Washington, DC, from NDCHealth, Pharmaceutical Audit Suite (Alpharetta, Ga). Data included the number of total filled prescriptions, including refills, and the actual number of EpiPens prescribed. Several data sets were used to obtain state-specific populations, as well as multiple demographic, health, and weather characteristics. State population was used to calculate the average number of prescriptions written per person.

RESULTS:

Overall, there were 1,511,534 EpiPen prescriptions filled during 2004. These prescriptions accounted for 2,495,188 EpiPens. On average, there were 5.71 EpiPens prescribed per 1000 persons. Massachusetts had the highest number of prescriptions per 1000 persons (11.8), whereas Hawaii had the lowest (2.7). In addition to state-to-state variation, there was an obvious regional difference: New England (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) had the highest values, with 8 to 12 EpiPen prescriptions per 1000 persons, whereas the southern states (between and including California and Mississippi) had only 3 prescriptions per 1000 persons. The New England finding persisted even when controlling for all available factors (eg, population demographic characteristics, number of health care providers, prescriptions for other medications).

CONCLUSION:

A strong north-south gradient was observed for the prescription of EpiPens in the United States, with the highest rates found in New England.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS:

The regional differences in EpiPen prescribing may provide important etiologic clues (vitamin D status) and merit further investigation.

 

***

I highlighted the total number EpiPens so you could clearly see the total number of pens prescribed. That’s a pretty big number to profit from at $600 per pen. The price increase boils down to this: GREED.

Mylan knows there is a demand for these life-saving medications. We’re not going to stop buying the medication because of a price increase. That would literally mean death. Thus, the rate increase because they know we’ll keep paying, whatever they dictate, to keep our families safe. This is literally a life or death choice for most of us carrying EpiPens. How can you put a price on that?  “Ho, Hum, staying alive this year will be…..ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”  That’s how crazy this all is. Especially with a drug that has been around for so long with no new changes or improvements. How can a $100 drug SOAR to $600 in a matter of a few months?

My note to the CEO of Mylan, the manufacturer of our EpiPens: Take your golden parachute and leave! It’s awful that I must patronize your company, and contribute to your gross salary at all. BOOOOOOO.

 

Normal blogging will resume as usual. Just HAD to get that off my chest today. It’s infuriating.  To sign the petition, check my facebook page for the link.

Happy Wednesday!

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