If you or your children have severe, life-threatening allergies, then you know how difficult it can be to navigate every day life. You have to constantly be on the lookout for triggers, whereas most of us never think twice about the actions and products around us. We could walk into any bakery and grab a pastry and it wouldn't be a big deal. We can send our kids to school without worrying that there'll be a kid there with a peanut butter sandwich whose parents believe their right to eat peanuts supersedes your kid's right to just live.
But for people who have severe allergies, these are things they have to consider all the time. They also have to figure out how to afford the one thing they need to carry at all times in the event of exposure: an EpiPen. EpiPens are monstrously expensive, and the price has skyrocketed even more in the last few years, making them practically unattainable for millions of people who need them. So the news that a generic version of the lifesaving medication may soon be available is most welcome.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the very first generic version of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr., which are auto-injectors for emergency treatment of allergic reactions. The injections deliver a dose of epinephrine, which can immediately treat the onset of anaphylaxis, which can be deadly.
In other words, having a EpiPen can mean the difference between life or death for someone in the throes of a severe allergic reaction. Mylan, the company who makes the brand-name EpiPen, recently raised the price of their pen, from $100 in 2007 to $608 today for a two-pack. The pens have a relatively short shelf life, so that could mean spending over $600 every 18 months or so, even if you never use the pens.
But Teva Pharmaceutical, the company who will make the generic version of the pen, hopes to make them more affordable. As of now, they haven't said when the cheaper generic pens will be come available, and they haven't announced how much they would cost. But if you've ever priced generic medication, then you know it's significantly cheaper than the brand-name stuff.
This is a huge win for allergy sufferers, and we hope it's the beginning of making health care and medication more affordable for everyone.