EpiPen costs on the rise - WNEM TV 5

EpiPen costs on the rise

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BURTON, MI (WNEM) -

An EpiPen can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of Americans who suffer from allergic reactions.

The life-saving injection is rising to a cost that's out of reach for some without insurance or with high deductibles.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to manufacture and distribute the EpiPen injectors in 2007, becoming the only company to do so.

Since then, the price has skyrocketed from about $60 for a two pack of pens to as much as $500, nine years later.

That's an increase of about 400 percent. Mylan attributed the increase to changes in health insurance landscape and an increase in families with high deductible plans.

The enormous price increase is affecting Americans everywhere, including Mid-Michigan residents.

"I broke out in hives, my face swelled up, along with my lips. My throat started swelling up," Kimberly Smith said.

She recalled the first time she was stung by a bee. It was a terrifying experience that left her in the hospital.

Smith now has a peace of mind, thanks to the EpiPen, but over the past month her insurance changed and the price of two pens skyrocketed.

"Anywhere between $600 and $700," she said. "It used to be free with my insurance."

Smith said if she can't get a refill, going outside could become a scary situation.

"It's frustrating. I don't understand why the insurance company or pharmaceutical is doing this kind of stuff to people who actually need these things to survive," Smith said.

Pharmacy Manager Blake Bonkowski said the prices went up in part because of a recall from one of the manufacturers.

"EpiPen had some generics come out, but because of the recall it caused Epipen to be the only reliable one on the market," Bonkowski said.

He said prices could come down once another generic comes out. Smith hopes it's not too late.

"If I don't have these pens, I either have to go to the hospital or I'm gonna die," Smith said.

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