NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - The price of a life-saving medication is skyrocketing leaving many families here in central Indiana and across the country left choosing between their health and their wallets.
“It’s hard to swallow. It really is," Noblesville resident Justin Hanegar said.
Justin Hanegar and his wife, Lexi Hanegar, have six children and two have severe food allergies. The family has to buy a total of four EpiPens each year to make sure both children have EpiPens readily available.
“I pay less for my car insurance for two vehicles than I do for four Epipens," Justin said.
The Henegars' story is similar to millions of other Americans across the country dealing with the increased price of EpiPens. The cost of the device has risen nearly 500 percent in the last seven years, costing more than $600 for a pack of two today.
Dr. Fred Leickly, Director of Pediatric Allergy Services at Riley Hospital, has studied children with allergies for more than 30 years. He said while the price of the EpiPen has increased dramatically over the last several years, the technology in the device hasn't changed much. Dr. Leickly cited one reason for the price increase could be a result of the only competitor in the market, Auvi-Q, stopping production a few years ago following a recall.
Leickly writes prescriptions for EpiPens daily and said it is one of the few medicines he's concerned that doesn't get filled because of the price.
"You know you got to have a life preserver out there," he said. "You don’t want to go out on the water without a life jacket, or life preserver, and it needs to work. But it’s expensive.”
In a statement the company that produces EpiPens, Mylan, said price have "changed over time to better reflect important product features and the value the product provides," and that "we've made a significant investment to support the device over the past years."
However, families like the Henegars said it's hard to see those improvements.
“The product hasn't changed as far as we can tell," Lexi Henegar said. "The packaging looks the same, you still use it the same way, it contains the same dosage, but yet it has gone up in price every year.”
Mylan does offer a coupon for eligible recipients on its website for the EpiPen.