Local Parents Concerned About Skyrocketing EpiPen Prices

ALMA (KFSM)- The average price of the life saving device, EpiPen was a little more than $100 in 2009. Now, seven years later, that price has gone up to over $600.

"When I have to buy one set for $700, and I actually like to keep two," mother, Kelli Collins said. "I keep one with us, and we keep one at our grandparent's house. Then, I'm paying $1,400 out of my pocket every year for an EpiPen. We're just trying to save our child's life, and protect them from having a reaction."

While many pharmacies are advertising the EpiPens for around $600, many local stores are charging much more.

"I called all of the local pharmacies here in town, and between Alma and Fort Smith, the price ranged from $600 to $800," Collins said.

There are generic alternatives, but that option isn't available for everyone.

"Our insurance will not cover a generic EpiPen," mother, Christie Rogers said. "We looked into getting viles of epinephrine with the needles to just be injectable, but you cannot get a doctor to prescribe that for you."

In Canada, you can purchase an EpiPen without a prescription, for a third of the price in the United States.

"I thought it was interesting that in Canada, they sell the exact same two-pack for around $200," Collins said. "So, I checked flights to Canada, and I could fly round trip from Fort Smith to Vancouver, walk in without a prescription, and purchase an EpiPen from Canada, and spend almost the same amount that I would for the same amount that I need here in town."

The pharmaceutical company, Mylan has issued a $300 coupon, but even that coupon does not guarantee the discount, and it can only be used by commercially insured customers.

"I would like to see the price become something that everyone can afford," Rogers said. "You know, that people aren't having to choose whether they can be safe or just take their chance with it."

Rogers said she knows people who are having to go without the EpiPen because of the price increase.

"It's so high," Rogers said. "I have family members who are not able to purchase the EpiPens they need, nor are some of my friends."

Collins fears that the prices will continue to increase in the years to come.

"It's just very scary that we might not be able to afford that," Collins said. "They might price themselves out at some point. People who are suffering who are just on the border of poverty, and if Medicaid is not purchasing their EpiPens, they're just not getting them. They're just saying, 'I'm sorry I can't afford them,' and just have to take the risk that they'll get to the emergency room on time."