Jennifer DiMercurio’s 7-year-old son, Liam, relies on the EpiPen, an auto injector used to treat anaphylactic shock, to save his life in the case of a severe allergic reaction. The device delivers a dose of epinephrine that’s worth about $1. But over the past nine years, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company which makes the EpiPen, has increased the price of the patented injecting device from $100 to $600.
That increase put the DiMercurios in a bind. In January 2015, DiMercurio’s husband started a new job that didn’t include health insurance. The family turned to the private market, where they found a plan that would cover Liam and Jennifer, who had developed a Latex allergy ? but it had a hefty deductible. So on two occasions, after using up their stash to save each others’ lives, the family had to borrow funds from relatives to replace their EpiPens.
This summer, DiMercurio’s husband started a new job ? one that came with good health insurance. But the family couldn’t afford to buy the year’s EpiPens until the new insurance kicked in.
So for four months, they had to rely on expired models.
“I was scared to take my son out, especially as summer was coming ? even at the grocery store I’d be more worried and more on alert because I’ll be afraid,” DiMercurio said. “Especially having to use them myself I’ve seen now how important it is to use it quickly and how fast it happens, and you don’t know if your pen is going to work because it’s expired.”