A granola bar almost killed me when I was 4. Now 27, I have a mouthful for Big Pharma.
My mom has always been a bit of a health nut. The lunches she packed for me when I was little consisted of turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread and no mayonnaise to speak of. I figured out how to negotiate early on in life and by Junior Kindergarten I had a knack for trading my trail mix for fruit roll ups, pringles and other sugary and salty treats. I ate about half of what was in my own lunch box and the other half came from "bites" of whatever yummies I could convince my friends to share with me.
On one fateful day in Junior K, I spotted something in my friend's lunch I'd never seen before: granola bar bites. I'd never had a granola bar, so try to flash back to your first Nature Valley and remember how good it tasted. I asked my friend to try one and was instantly hooked: not only were the bites delicious, but they left this tingling feeling in my mouth that I'd never felt before. It turns out the "tingling" was a major allergic reaction.
Minutes after eating my friend's entire bag (I had no qualms about taking someone up on their generosity), the tingle in my mouth spread to my eyes and arms. I couldn't stop scratching. We were watching a movie in class and I asked the teacher if my eyes looked puffy to her, but she couldn't see anything. I sat back down for about five minutes, and then my survival instincts kicked in. I knew there was something wrong and asked to be taken to the nurse's office.
By the time I made my way down the hall, my face had swollen exponentially. Everyone including the nurse gasped when I walked in her door. She sat me down immediately to ask me questions and I told her about the granola bars and that no, this had never happened to me before. She made a bunch of phone calls and my very dear family friend picked me up to take me to the doctor. I don't have a memory of what happened right after that, but the next day I was taken in for extensive allergy tests and found out I was suddenly allergic to pretty much everything. I was prescribed with a very strict diet and given what I was told would save my life in the event I accidentally ate one of the 100+ things I was now suddenly allergic to: an EpiPen.
My mom made sure I had two EpiPens with me at all times until I was about 13 years old and had grown out of my life-threatening allergies. The doctor told my mom that had I not been brought to his office immediately on the day of my first allergic reaction, I very well could have suffocated from my throat closing up. I never imagined a world where there would be an enormous financial roadblock to surviving another allergic reaction, yet here we are today.
I'm sick to my stomach reading about the recent price hikes on EpiPens. In case you've missed it, here is the latest according to NPR:
The wholesale price of a single pen was about $47 in 2007, and it rose to $284 this summer, according to Richard Evans, a health care analyst at SSR. But consumers can no longer buy a single pen, so the retail price to fill a prescription today at Walgreens is about $633, according to GoodRX.
It's the latest in a string of controversies over rising drug prices that have caught the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The drug's manufacturer, Mylan NV, responded to the criticism Thursday, announcing it will offer customers whose insurance doesn't pay the full cost coupons for up to $300 off the injectors. But it's unclear if that will be enough to tamp down the anger.
No, Mylan, it's not enough to tamp down my anger.
The research that led to the development of the EpiPen was government funded: this means that we, taxpayers, paid for the development of a drug that is now out of the financial reach of most Americans. Government intervention is what we need right now in order to make this life saving medicine affordable again for the individuals and families who need it. Mylan is claiming that 80% of individuals with insurance will have the cost of the EpiPen fully covered, but this does not address the fact that these insurance policies have high deductibles that wind up costing the patients more money, anyway. Not to mention, most individuals and families who need EpiPens don't just need one: they keep EpiPens in their car, handbag, home and office in the event of an emergency. We can't allow Big Pharma to continue putting a price tag on survival.
Please join me in raising your voice to those who have the power to make a difference. I've listed several links below where you can add your name and demand to congress that the price of EpiPens be lowered. Thank you for helping those who need it most: