In all honesty, I never thought I’d have to write this story, but since the pharmaceutical company Mylan decided it wanted to put greed and profit over saving lives, well, I’m left with no other choice. They need to hear my story.
According to CNBC:
“As Mylan’s EpiPen prices rose by more than 400 percent, pay for its top executive jumped by more than 600 percent. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase, according to data provided by Connecture.”
Here’s the thing about EpiPens, they are literally used in life and death situations. They are used when someone is having a severe allergic reaction, and that epinephrine auto-injection prevents them from asphyxiation and death. Now, it’s becoming too expensive for people to afford due to unnecessary greed. There is also no competition for the product which is how they get away with it.
Here’s my story:
During grad school I worked as a nanny to pay the bills. One of the children I nannied for had severe allergies. He was three-years-old and pretty much allergic to everything. Before I arrived I needed to brush my teeth, change my clothes, wash my hands, etc. I couldn’t risk bringing in any outside allergen. And what did I have always clipped to my belt loop? An EpiPen. It was this young child’s lifeline. I knew he needed it, and should never be without it. However, I didn’t really think about the pen outside of work and carried on with my life as usual.
That was, of course, until early this year.
As I was traveling home by myself from a holiday visit to my in-laws because American Airlines cancelled my flight and separated my partner and I coming home by days, I ate a quick meal at my layover airport.
No big thing, right? That was until I woke up from my nap about 20 minutes from my home airport, still in the air, covered from head to toe in hives.
My first thought was it was the laundry detergent used at my inlaws, but it became very apparent as I walked to my car at the airport that it was something I had eaten because my tongue began to fill up my mouth.
I always assumed food allergies were faster than that, but not for me. Not this time.
I quickly got myself to the Emergency Room where they brought me directly to be treated and started pumping me full of all sorts of different things. I was asked, “what did you eat?” And all I could say was, “a salad.” I had never had any known allergy like this before in my life, and I’m 35.
My friends came and met me at the hospital as my partner frantically kept calling to check in because she was across the country (Thanks, American Airlines). They drove me home and made sure I was okay as I was drugged up on antihistamines for the next three days.
My doctor had me follow up with an allergist, who then determined I have no known allergies, and I told him he was full of shit. CLEARLY I have an allergy.
So, what do I do now? I carry an EpiPen absolutely everywhere I go, because I was told the next time I have the allergen I may react faster. If only I knew what it was so I can avoid it.
Every day is like a game of roulette where I take the chance of eating that one thing that may send me back to the ER. However, I have some sense of calm knowing I have my trusty EpiPen with me wherever I go.
If I’m unable to afford the EpiPen, a prescription that needs to be refilled every 6-12 months, I could, quite literally, die.
I know my allergy story isn’t as horrific as some others who have known food allergies like peanuts, or those who are allergic to bees, but truthfully? At least they know what they are allergic to.
I have zero respect for Mylan and their CEO Heather Bresch. While I have insurance that covers it now, it still costs me $200 out of pocket each time, and who knows what it will be the next time I go. Or the time after that. Or the time after that.
It’s hard for me to be polite about this because it’s so personal to myself and many that I love. So, Heather Bresch? Fuck you.
It’s ironic that their slogan for the EpiPen is “Because Every Second Counts” because what it should actually read is, “Life For Those Who Can Afford It.”
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons