The Cost of the EpiPen has Not “Dropped”


You may have heard and seen a lot of information in your newsfeed about epi-pens in the past few days. If your family doesn’t need the drug, you may be saddened and shocked for those of us that have been directly impacted by the outrageous prices, but you may be missing how much this impacts your wallet too. For those of us living this nightmare, it has been a debilitating fact of life for years. The impact is direct and measurable for so many, but trust me you have felt it too. We all feel it in the skyrocketing insurance premiums, reduction of benefits, and increases in personal medical expenses this type of greed and irresponsibility brings on. You may have also seen some of the articles stating that Mylan has dropped the price of epi-pens and cheered. Don’t be tricked into thinking that the price of this drug has “dropped.” That is simply untrue (to this point), and to view it otherwise is a very destructive way of perceiving Mylan’s actions.

Here is what Mylan has really done so far. It has simply changed the value of the Mylan “zero co-pay card.” This is a card that is given out by the company; the value is variable and has been for years. Since our diagnosis in 2010, we have needed at least one epi-pen per year and have subsequently been issued this so-called “zero co-pay” card from Mylan. Every year the value of that card has been $200 until this year when Mylan dropped the value of the card to $100. (Yep, that sucked.) Now they have bumped the value of the card up to $300. The actual price of this GENERIC mass manufactured drug has not changed, the only thing that changed is the value of a discount card. For us, that means that this year we could have paid $315 instead of $519. That is hardly a zero copay. While that would have been easier on our family in the here and now, THE ACTUAL COST of the drug has not changed. It’s inflated price is still burdening the health care system. Mylan manages and maintains the “zero co-pay” card and can change its value at their own discretion. That leaves us exactly where we started: with a drug that is overpriced and preys upon families that need it in the case of a life-threatening emergency.

It is too easy to villainize politicians, insurance, and healthcare providers as the single source of the health care problem. In truth, it is all of those things working together behind the curtain of medical cost-sharing policies without proper public education that is the true culprit. Your patient responsibility is rarely the only cost being paid. And while a plan, policy, or discount card may reduce or eliminate your immediate out of pocket cost, you are still paying the price when companies are allowed to gouge prices as Mylan is doing. You pay it in your premiums; you pay it with reduced access; the entire system pays it. A resignation of a CEO, while needed, isn’t enough; raising the value of a discount card that the company that created the inflation controls IS NOT ENOUGH. We must remedy the failure to control and manage the outrageous pricing structures that plague our health system.

No, the price of epi-pens has not been dropped. Yes, you should care.

Stacy Mcdonald-Taylor
Stacy, a former health care program manager, came to the first coast by way of Charlotte, NC. Passionate for community and creative arts. Stacy has worked with families and educators through Parent Education & Outreach Programs. Since welcoming the births of her and her husband’s two delightful, energetic sons, she has worked from home, always seeking to find new ways to provide a joy-filled, creative environment, nurturing a love for people, learning, nature, and healthy, natural/organic foods. Stacy shares tidbits of her “life learnings” on her blog, Wasting Nothing


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