Céilí Doyle, The Miami Student
As sophomore Steven Ruane sat down to eat at Western Dining Commons last November, he bit into his food only to realize something was wrong. His friend mentioned that he tasted peanuts in the food, so Ruane rushed to the station that had served him, where they confirmed peanuts were one of the ingredients.
That was the one day he had forgotten his EpiPens, an epinephrine auto-injector prescribed for the emergency treatment of anaphylactic shock brought on by allergic reactions, in his room.
Springing into action, Ruane’s girlfriend dialed 911 while he sprinted across campus to retrieve his medication from Emerson Hall, making it in time to inject the life-saving drug into his system.
The pharmaceutical company, Mylan, obtained EpiPens in 2007 when the price of the medication cost less than $100 for a two-pack. This past May, the price skyrocketed, averaging around $614 or over $300 per EpiPen.
“I don’t even know if Miami had EpiPens, where I would find them or how quickly I could get them,” Ruane said. “It’s much better to carry them on your own person, but that’s not an option if they’re so expensive people can’t afford them.”
Due to the price increase, Ruane was limited to only buying two EpiPens for his sophomore year.
“At the beginning of every school year I usually purchase EpiPens to have with me,” Ruane said. “Usually, I carry two on me everywhere I go. I left two with the nurse back when I was in high school and middle school, and I have spares that I leave in my room, but with the price increase I haven’t been able to get six EpiPens, which would be $1,800.”
According to MarketWatch, the price of a two-pack of EpiPens has increased six fold since Mylan added the drug to its company nine years ago.
Mylan has only cited health insurance providers with high-deductible rates as the main reason for the price hikes, according to an article in the New York Times last August.
First-year Alexandria Tong said she was told by her allergist that it would be $100 to get her EpiPens, but it ended up being around $700.
“Luckily, I’m in a position where my family is still able to purchase them, but it is definitely more inconvenient,” Tong said.
While the Student Health Services does not carry EpiPens, they do have epinephrine,the adrenal drug found in EpiPens and other generic brands,available in the case of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
“We stopped carrying EpiPens here about a year ago, because we can buy the epinephrine that’s about two dollars,” nursing manager, Becky Foster said. “We would administer the epinephrine in an emergency allergic reaction, and we [switched to epinephrine] because of costs.”
The increase in the cost of EpiPens has taught Miami students to be more aware of where their EpiPens are at all times because the amount of spares they have can be limited.
“I’m paranoid regardless, but having other friends with allergies I know everyone is being extremely more cautious,” Tong said.