Need an affordable EpiPen?

By Caitlin Kelly

BUSINESS OF FREELANCING

Here’s how to find one, my story yesterday from Forbes.

The backstory, for those of you who don’t use or need one, is the staggering price increase for the EpiPen, an injectable device that pumps epinephrine into your system to address anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction to nuts, shellfish, fish or any number of substances.

If someone goes into that shock, they need the injection within 30 minutes or they can die.

In the U.S. — whose entire healthcare “system” is run to wring the maximum profit from our inevitable physical needs — there’s only one company making them right now, Mylan, whose female CEO, Heather Bresch, the daughter of a Senator, no less, might be the most loathed individual in the country right now.

Knowing she has the market cornered, (as other competitors left the field), she spiked the price of EpiPens to $600 — a huge jump, and one that makes a lifesaving device unaffordable to many people.

(The company, now under tremendous public fire, is offering a $300 coupon.)

Imagine needing, (as some people do), three sets for each child: school, home and your vehicle, a cool $1,800 to start.

Oh, and Bresch earns $19 million for her.…ethics.

 

I’ve been following this story, not because anyone I know uses an EpiPen but because I’m so sickened by corporate greed.

 

I also grew up, to the age of 30, in a nation with strict government oversight and regulation of drugs, medications and device prices — so no one gets gouged.

That’s Canada.

I decided to pursue this story on Friday morning, and started at 10:00 a.m.

I put out calls and urgent emails to sources in the U.S. and Canada, racing the clock to get the story reported and written quickly; as a “trending topic”, I needed to get it posted as soon as I could, yet make sure I was producing a smart, well-written and well-sourced piece.

Social media saved my bacon — a request to a writers’ group I belong to on Facebook prompted a fast reply from someone who knew a physicians (!) who personally relies on EpiPens and who emailed me back quickly and in detail.

Score!

Working behind the scenes with my editor who, as usual and of course, I haven’t met, we discussed how to best present the story, an angle I hadn’t read anywhere else — yet.

We posted the finished story, about 1,200 words, by 5pm. (Good thing I’ve worked as a daily newspaper reporter. That kind of speed is normal for me.)

 

If you have time to read it, please share it widely; Forbes is a pay per view model, and this story offers an important way for people who need affordable access to get it.

14 thoughts on “Need an affordable EpiPen?

  1. Caitlin, I’m so glad you brought this subject up. It is criminal what is going on. I thought there were laws in the US to stop monopolies and issues like this.
    Leslie

    1. Thanks.

      Hahahahahahahaaha. It’s America, baby — all $$$$, all the time. The only issue that 90% of CEOs and their cosy-hand-holding boards of directors care about is “shareholder value” and placating the God of Wall Street. Oh, and $$$$$$$$$$ in annual compensation for their growth strategy, ethics be damned!

      Not that I have strong opinions about this. šŸ™‚

  2. Corporate greed in the pharmaceutical/medical industry is sickening. I had lots of experience of that when my mother needed life-saving medication and the American drug company who manufactured it was (still is) holding the NHS to ransom, meaning we had a year’s agonising wait in limbo to see if she could get her meds in time before it was too late. Playing with people’s lives, all for the sake of money… šŸ˜” “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre is an excellent book on the subject.

    I’ll tweet your Forbes post.

  3. great turnaround on this very timely story and it was a great piece. this is absolutely criminal, but at least i can tell parents at school that there is an alternative –

  4. Great piece and love how you shared the story of how you pulled it together. I have worked in the pharma industry in Europe for many years. I don’t share a black and white view on ‘bad pharma’…there are many dedicated people working in the industry who truly want to better the lives of patients. But sadly, examples of corporate greed like Mylan come along all too often and destroy the reputation of the entire industry. What I particularly found interesting in your story is how easy it is for Americans to simply order off Canadian online pharmacies. How does Mylan manage to keep any kind of profit happening when parallel imports are so easy to access?

    1. Thanks…and I agree with you, of course…I don’t mean to tarnish all pharma with a broad brush. (Although I see too many cases where a “wonder” drug ends up with lawsuits years later.)

      A few reasons:

      1) people want to get their deductible lowered and a Canadian-bought product won’t apply, so they are saving $$$ but they’re not, at the same time; 2) a lot of Americans don’t know that other countries operate very differently so they don’t know it’s an option; 3) and/or they distrust the safety and quality of what they are buying from another country; 4) staying with the devil you know?

      The Mylan issue really just blew up in the past few months — when there were competing options on the market, people had less costly choices. Now they don’t.

  5. Vicky Applebaum

    Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t know and am so grateful that the same thing isn’t happening here in Canada (which I didn’t know until I read your Forbes story, so thanks). I have to buy 3 new ones every year for my daughter (I can never get one with a longer-than-a-year expiry) at $100CDN a pop (no insurance coverage), and I thought THAT was bad enough! We’ve thankfully never had to use one, and even though it is a life-saving device, I do feel a bit shackled to a corporation that knows I am dependent on it “just in case”.

    1. Canadians have no idea (how could you?) how insane and greedy and terrifying American capitalism-dominated healthcare is.

      The single greatest cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. — medical bills.

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