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epipen

I am absolutely shocked by the recent news of the incredible rise of prescription drug prices. Attention to this problem started with the actions of CEO Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals who bought the rights to manufacture a one of a kind parasite fighting drug and who then increased the price of the drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill!

Most recently in the news, we’ve heard about the increased price of the Epipen made by Mylan Drugs. The Epipen is a vial of adrenaline which can be self injected by the victim of a life threatening allergic reaction (think bee sting or peanut allergies). This is truly a life saving drug. It contains approximately one dollars worth of adrenaline. Some 5 years ago it sold for $40 and just recently jumped to around $600. (Coincidentally the CEO of the company has seen a salary increase from 2 1/2 million dollars to 18 million dollars.)

This same CEO then came out saying the company would give out coupons which would help some but not all the people who needed Epipens. And now they have developed their own generic version of the Epipen which they plan to sell for $300. Who knows what’s next. This still is a far cry from the price of a few years ago, especially for those many families that need to have on hand several Epipens to care for potential allergic emergencies, not to mention that the devices expire after one year and need to be replaced.

I find these examples of drug price gouging to be unconscionable and unsustainable. For those of us with life threatening diseases, myself included, we seem to be held hostage by the prices of our life sustaining treatments.

Years ago I felt that drug companies did a fantastic job in the research and development of all kinds of new drugs which were offered at fair prices and which helped to conquer a variety of diseases throughout the world. Now it appears they have become greedy. I am all for a free market capitalistic system as we have in the United States, but when it comes to drug companies charging as much as they possibly can, I feel they are holding patients hostage.

Unfortunately, when patients can’t afford their medications, they will often skip doctor’s appointments, tests, or procedures. They may not even fill their prescriptions or take less than directed. All of this is very unhealthy.

The government needs to step in and help to control drug prices because as of now drug companies can charge whatever they want. If it’s a life enhancing or life saving drug, there is little choice but pay the asking price.

The government has various ways to control drug prices such as allowing U.S. patients to purchase cheaper drugs from other countries such as Canada, or by encouraging the development and sales of cheaper generic drugs. We, as citizens and drug purchasers, must contact our elected officials and demand that they help to control drug prices while allowing drug companies a fair profit and enough money to continue new drug development.

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