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Why are EpiPens so Expensive?

why are epipens so expensive

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There may be people out there who have never been stung by a bee, but they’re probably few and far between. Most of us were stung plenty of times in our youth. Sure, it hurts something fierce for the first few minutes but after that the pain is not as sharp. Some of you may had your mom put an onion slice on a bee sting when you were young to help deal with it. The onion has compounds in it that break down proteins in the bee venom. But for a person with bee sting allergy (anaphylaxis) there’s no home cure that’s going to cut it and they WILL need to use an EpiPen. But why are EpiPens so expensive?

The answer to that question is the same one to why are prescription drugs so expensive in America? To answer it in full would take an entire blog entry of its own, but what you can know about why does an EpiPen cost so much is that all pharmaceutical (drug) products are expensive because of the decidedly for-profit nature of the industry in America, and the fact that drug manufacturers are able to set prices for products as they like. Why are EpiPens so expensive? There are also more middlemen that exist in the chain between pen manufacturer and the pharmacist, and this factors into price too.

EpiPens tend to be expensive in much the same way that insulin pens are too, but let’s be fair in saying that diabetics have it worse than those who are at risk of going into anaphylactic shock because of an allergy. Keeping blood glucose levels in check is an everyday thing and that means regular injections, but for someone who has these types of serious allergy risks the injections are going to be very infrequent although there is always the need to keep the EpiPen with you in case you need it.

Another consideration for why are EpiPens so expensive is that because the medication is an injection contained in a cartridge and this adds to the manufacturer’s production costs. Maybe not by much, but it all adds up and this is why EpiPens are expensive. But you can be thankful that you very likely won’t need to use it often, so ordering EpiPens from Canada and getting a better price on them makes a lot of sense.

The Workings

The EpiPen itself works by delivering epinephrine. This synthetic hormone goes to work quickly once it has entered the bloodstream, and what it does is narrow blood vessels and opens the airways of the lungs to stop the immune system from overreacting and constricting the airway in reaction to detecting the allergy in the body. The fact that the needle on the EpiPen is designed to be stronger and more durable to be injected through clothing is also a part of why are EpiPens so expensive.

One other thing your doctor or pharmacist will make clear to you is that injecting yourself with an EpiPen doesn’t mean you’re ‘out of the woods’, as the expression goes for no longer being in danger. Everyone will have a dosage level indicated for their EpiPen and naturally the 0.15mg dose pen is going to be more expensive than the 0.3mg pen dose. This can contribute to why are EpiPens so expensive too, but the point to be made here is sometimes the effect of the epinephrine can wear off when there is still allergen in the body, so it is important to get medical help after you’ve injected yourself.

Clear? All Clear

We’ve laid out most of the reasons for why does an EpiPen cost so much, and what we’ll do now instead of going any further with that is discuss what you need to know about whether an EpiPen is ready for injection or not. As mentioned, unless you have the absolute worst of luck you won’t be injecting yourself with epinephrine very often, and there is the chance that EpiPens you purchased may not be viable anymore. People wonder why are EpiPens so expensive, but they also often wonder why EpiPens expire so quickly and the common understanding is that they don’t last any longer than 18 months.

Is there a chance you won’t have an allergen exposure event any time in a year and a half? Absolutely there is, and in fact you’re going to hope it’s never. All of this has nothing to do with why are EpiPens so expensive, but the fastest and easiest way to know if an EpiPen is expired is to look into the injector and see that the liquid is clear. If it is clear and doesn’t have particles floating in it, it is likely still a valid EpiPen for use. Fortunately, the packs come with an EpiPen expiration date shown on them though, so you shouldn’t need to do the liquid eye test.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.


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