Hello Valley Patriot Readers,
Do you have an allergy or know anyone who has a severe allergy to something like, for example, peanuts? The lives of people with this type of life-altering condition cause them to constantly be on alert regarding potential interactions with that allergen – to the point where some cannot even touch the surface of where certain foods were prepared. I have spoken with young parents who are scared to even kiss their babies, after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, because that trace amount could cause the baby to go into anaphylactic shock.
The prevalence of life-threatening allergies among children is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. It is estimated that currently 1 in 13 children has a food allergy, and more than 40 percent of those children have experienced a severe allergic reaction.
Food allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis – and although there are eight food groups responsible for about 90 percent of allergic reactions, there are more than 170 different foods that have been reported to trigger an allergic reaction. Given the severity of anaphylaxis, we are fortunate to have a first line of treatment, epinephrine.
The first modern epinephrine auto-injector, however, EpiPen, has become the poster child for this nation’s drug-pricing problem, with prices increasing more than 500 percent over a decade. One 2016 report found that the price of an EpiPen two-pack increased from about $100 in 2004 to just over $600 in 2016. The cost of the active ingredient in EpiPen? About $1.
As adults, we have some measure of control over our surroundings. For children, exposure to a potentially fatal allergen can be completely inadvertent. More than 15 percent of school-aged children with food allergies have had a reaction in school. It is critical that epinephrine be available for children with life-threatening allergies at all times and in all environments – at home, at school, with parents and other caregivers – to prevent needless loss of life. In effect, families need multiple epinephrine injector packs at any given time, compounding the cost.
Additionally, due to the one-year shelf life of the medication, it must be replaced regularly, regardless of whether it is ever used. This results in parents keeping injectors past their expiration dates because they can’t afford new ones. No child should have to die because a caregiver can’t afford life-saving medication.
In response to these exorbitant costs, I recently filed an amendment to legislation, the PACT Act, which mandates that the Center for Health Information Analysis perform an impact analysis on the cost of providing epinephrine injectors to all minors and produce a report by April 2020. We need to get costs down. Price gauging by companies like the manufacturer of EpiPen is nothing short of disgraceful.
These pharmaceutical companies need to come clean about the actual cost of production and stop exploiting a child’s life-threatening condition to increase their outrageous profit margins. The inclusion of this amendment in the PACT Act, a comprehensive bill focused on prescription drug cost containment and consumer protection, will take us one step closer to providing epinephrine injector coverage for all children of the Commonwealth.
If you have any questions about this or any other piece of legislation, please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com or phone at (617) 722-1604.
Yours in service,