Over 50 million Americans have an allergy. Every year there are 200,000 emergency room visits that can be attributed to allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. Severe reactions require immediate attention and cannot always wait until getting to a hospital. An injection of epinephrine can mitigate or even eliminate the effects of a severe allergic reaction. The most common consumer delivery method for epinephrine is the Epipen. Nearly 3.6 million Americans have an Epipen prescription.
Despite the lifesaving nature of the medication, Americans are finding it more and more difficult to obtain the Epipen. This isn’t because it’s tough to find, but because its price has increased over 450% since 2004. They have gone from an average price of $50 per pen to over $300 per pen today. At that level people may be tempted to not fill their prescriptions, hoping they will not encounter a situation that could trigger a severe allergic reaction.
The price increase is outrageous. If you add the fact that children must be provided Epipens to keep at school as well as at home, it means the cost for this drug can be astronomical for families. Insurance isn’t much help either. Higher deductible plans mean many people may never hit the point where insurance kicks in to take over the costs.
The solution is personal importation. It would permit Americans to buy the Epipen from reputable online Canadian pharmacies. It would allow Americans to have the medication they need at a price that is affordable and from a regulated and safe source. Personal importation is something the U.S. needs now. Americans with severe allergies should not be forced to risk going without it because they cannot afford the cost.