Epipen: A Sign of a Broken Healthcare System

Tanya Feke | Diagnosis Life, LLC | October 13, 2016

The Epipen Saga: America’s Health Care Is Sick

It has been going on for years. The difference is that now the media is hopping on the story. Now America is paying attention. In 2015, the price of doxycycline, a generic antibiotic, was up to $5 per pill, an increase from $0.03 in 2014. The antibiotic is the gold standard treatment for Lyme disease. In 2015, the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine), was up to $750 per pill, an increase from $13.50. The antiparasitic medication is used to toxoplasmosis, an infection acquired in people who have HIV/AIDS.

EpiPen Auto Injector (Credit - Greg Frlese, Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

In 2016, the price of the Epipen was up to $600 for a two-pack, an increase from $100 in 2007. The medication is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. How can the pharmaceutical industry justify this? Our health care system is easy, right? People take care of themselves. When they develop symptoms, they rely on doctors to diagnose and guide them and on pharmaceutical companies to produce the medications that will treat them. People feel better and everyone is happy. If only it were that simple.

The pharmaceutical companies have another end point in mind. They develop drugs, perform clinical trials, and get those drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the general population. More importantly, they get a patent on that drug that allows them to be the only company that can produce it for a period of time. Drug patents last up to 20 years in the United States! That timeline includes the time the drug is in clinical trials as well as the time it takes to get through the FDA approval process...