When the Cost of Healthcare Kills

New research raises the issue that almost half pf people with severe asthma who have been prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors (“epi-pens”) don’t carry them.

“The majority of people surveyed (89 percent) filled the prescriptions they were given for an EAI,” says Christopher Warren, PhD(c), lead author of the study. “But almost half (45 percent) said they didn’t have their EAI with them during their most severe allergic reaction. This was despite the fact that 78 percent of the people responding had been hospitalized for their allergy at some point in their lifetime. Another 21 percent said they didn’t know how to use their EAI.”

Excuse the English, but this is one of those “No shit, Sherlock” moments. As USA Today noted, the price of epi-pens almost tripled between 2009 and 2016. While there is a lower cost generic version available, most consumers may not be aware of it, or due to manufacturer advertising, may not trust the generic. Even the generic is more than $100, and for people lacking health insurance, that may be too much.

People can’t use medication they can’t afford. The US government has made it easier to people not to have insurance, but they’ve done next to nothing about cost.

Arguably, the very rich can afford to pay out-of-pocket for medicine and don’t need health insurance, and want to maximize the value of the pharmaceutical stocks they own. That’s where the interpretation that current US government policy is designed to hurt most Americans and help the rich originates.

Image result for epipen price increases


  1. Christopher M. Warren, Justin M Zaslavsky, Kristin Kan, Jonathan M Spergel, Ruchi S. Gupta. Epinephrine auto-injector carriage and use practices among US children, adolescents, and adults. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2018.06.010
  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “Majority of US adults prescribed epinephrine report not using it in an emergency: Study shows people said their epinephrine wasn’t available or thought it wasn’t necessary.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180621141101.htm>
  3. USA Today, April 3, 2017.
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/03/mylan-hit-with-racketeering-suit-over-big-price-hikes-of-epipen.html

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