Health

Doctor Shows Patients How To Make Their Own $10 EpiPen

| by Nik Bonopartis
Syringe with needleSyringe with needle

A pack of two EpiPens, the lifesaving devices carried by people with severe allergies, costs about $600 -- a fact that has sparked headlines and outrage over price-gauging by pharmaceutical company Mylan and its CEO Heather Bresch.

For people with severe allergies, or parents whose children suffer from life-threatening allergies, the cost of EpiPens has become prohibitively expensive since 2007, when Mylan purchased the rights to the pens and hiked the price by about 461 percent, according to Connecture data reported by NBC News.

But now an Ohio doctor says patients can make their own EpiPens for about $10 each. The ingredients? A $6 bottle of epinephrine, a needle, and an empty tin of Altoids mints.

"The sudden rise in cost is alarming because I worry about parents who are literally having to choose between carrying a life-saving device and putting food on the table," said Dr. Marcus Romanello, chief medical officer and ER doctor at Ft. Hamilton Hospital in Ohio, WRGT reports.

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Romanello says he's seen what the price-gauging has done to families, but he's also had personal experience.

"I have a child, my oldest is actually allergic to tree nuts and has had anaphylactic reactions before and we've had to use his EpiPen before," said Romanello. "The number of children with food allergies has spiked over the past decade or so.”

A video from Cincinatti's WCPO shows the doctor with the components of his DIY EpiPen and explaining how it's fashioned.

Of course, there are some drawbacks. For children with severe allergies, a DIY EpiPen is not something they can legally bring to school because it involves carrying a needle. Even carried with a safety cap, it's likely that individual state laws bar students from carrying needles to school.

Then there's the problem of the needle itself -- some people will not be comfortable injecting themselves with a standard needle, even though the mechanism is similar to an EpiPen.

"It does require some degree of medical comfort with a needle and syringe, drawing up the appropriate dose," Romanello said to WRGT. "If someone were to draw up a little too much, not an issue. In a setting of anaphylactic reaction too much is not going to hurt."

Mylan has been at the center of controversy in late August after a series of stories exposing its massive price hikes on EpiPens and other drugs deemed necessary for people who suffer from allergies and other conditions.

CEO Bresch saw her compensation balloon by 671 percent over the previous eight years, earning almost $26 million in 2015, according to FiercePharma, Forbes reports.

Bresch, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, is no stranger to controversy. After a newspaper reported Bresch hadn't earned her MBA in 2008, the president of the University of West Virginia -- a close friend of Bresch's father -- had his staff backdate a degree complete with fabricated grades, using her time on the job as credit for coursework, The New York Times reported. Several officials at the university resigned in the resulting fallout.

Bresch also presided over Mylan's incorporation in the Netherlands, allowing the company to avoid paying a higher tax rate for U.S. companies.

Sources: WRGT, WCPO, NBC News, Forbes, The New York Times / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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