Having access to an EpiPen can mean the difference between life and death for those with severe allergies.
“I’m allergic to lots of foods, but the main ones that swell up my tongue that I’d need an EpiPen for are almonds and sunflower,” said Omahan Merinda Collins.
When Merinda Collins began filling her EpiPen prescription about a decade ago it cost $10. Today with insurance it costs Collins $200 for a two-pack.
“I don't have $200 to just spend on a thing that expires every year. Now I just have an expired one in my purse,” said Collins.
Dr. Brett Kettelhut of Allergy Asthma and Immunology Associates says having an unexpired EpiPen is ideal, but unfortunately more people are having to hold on to their expired EpiPens.
“I’ve had parents call, actually mothers calling in tears saying they couldn’t afford an EpiPen. It’s unfortunate because this is a very vulnerable group of people,” said Dr. Kettelhut.
Since pharmaceutical company Mylan got the rights to the product in 2007, the price increased roughly 400%.
“I just find it hard to understand the ethics behind this,” said Dr. Kettelhut.
Members of Congress including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley are hearing from anxious parents about the rising costs. In a letter written Monday to the pharmaceutical company Grassley demanded answers.
“They can't have done more research on it from ten years ago until now, so there's no reason for EpiPens to start costing more,” said Collins.
But that’s what the company is claiming. In a statement Mylan told CBS News the “EpiPen price has changed over time to better reflect product features and the value the product provides.”
Forbes estimates the actual drug inside an EpiMen costs Mylan about one dollar per device. Experts say company executives should prepare to answer more questions from Capitol Hill in weeks to come.
Dr. Kettelhut says there is an alternative to the EpiPen called Adrenaclick. He says in some cases it costs about a third of the price of the EpiPen. Dr. Kettelhut says to consult your physician and insurance company to see if that is a better cost alternative.