• EpiPen cost so high some allergy patients are going without

    By: Deborah Horne


    Meg Pasquini was asked to guess the cost of this two-dose EpiPen. After all, her doctor had told her she should carry the drug with her, after she had suffered a particularly bad bee sting. But she never got it.

    So when she was asked what she thought it might go for, she guessed $40.

    When she was told it cost $600, she responded, "Holy, schmoly! Wow!"

    And the generic brand?

    "The generic's going to cost a little over $400," said Mike Donohue, the pharmacist/owner of Bob Johnson's Pharmacy in Ballard.

    Donohue has watched the cost go up for nearly three years.

    "It's just there's not many manufacturers out there," Donohue said. "And they know that the market is bearing (the cost) right now."

    What's worse, the amount of the actual drug epinephrine in the EpiPen costs just 52 cents. It's the apparatus to inject the drug that costs so much.  

    "It's been a problem for a lot of our patients," says Dr. David Naimi, specialist at Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center.

    He says he has not had any patients die because they couldn't afford an EpiPen.

    "We haven't yet to run into that," said Dr. Naimi. "Epinephrine is the cornerstone of treatment for a severe allergic reaction. And without it, if you're having a bad allergic reaction, it could lead to death."

    Meg Pasquini says if her insurance won't cover the cost, "I won't have one. No. $600? Oh, no."

    We asked her if she would just take the risk.

    "Oh, I would have to take the risk," she said, nodding.

    Pharmacist Mike Donohue understands her situation. "Something has to change," he said.

    And he believes that change needs to come from the federal government, saying that the Food and Drug Administration needs to push to get more of the drug on the market to help lower the cost.

    Lives may depend on it.

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