Orlando Democratic Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost, alongside California Congresswoman Doris Matsui, also a Democrat, recently introduced the EPIPEN Act, cost-saving and potentially life-saving legislation to cap the out-of-pocket costs of epinephrine auto-injectors, like EpiPens.
Congressman Frost’s EPIPEN Act comes as the prices of auto-injectors have skyrocketed, with even generics becoming prohibitively expensive, and EpiPen’s manufacturer increasing the costs of the life-saving medicines from under $100 to over $600, squeezing working-class Americans and families who can’t risk not having an auto-injector with them at all times. These medications are used to treat severe allergic reactions, at just $60 per pack of two, for those with employer-based or individually purchased health insurance.
“As someone who has suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction, I know first-hand just how critical it is to have access to an EpiPen or an auto-injector when your body needs it most. But right now, we have a problem in America where people who need EpiPens aren’t carrying them simply because of the cost,” said Congressman Maxwell Frost. “Our office has heard from countless working folks who either carry expired auto-injectors or simply don’t carry one despite their severe allergies because they can’t afford it. It’s time the federal government looked out for working families and capped these prices. Our EPIPEN Act can save some parents $13,000 over the course of a child’s life. This bill would make all the difference in ensuring that the decision to carry the medicine we need to stay alive isn’t a difficult one.”
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, epinephrine auto-injectors cost on average just under $70, making them increasingly more accessible compared to the U.S., where Americans with pricey, high-deductible insurance plans pay on average $200 annually, with some folks paying more than $650 per year.
As costs have exploded, several states have acted to cap prices, but federal legislation is still needed to lower costs nationwide. The EPIPEN Act can save families over 90% on the cost of the device, and for those paying more than $650 per year, $13,000 in savings from the time a child is old enough to use the device to the time they transition off their parents’ insurance at 26 years old.
“Families with children with allergies should not have to choose between ensuring their children’s safety and paying for rent and groceries,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Parents should be able to rest assured knowing their children have access to lifesaving epinephrine no matter where they are—and this access starts with affordability. That’s why I’m pleased to introduce the EPIPEN Act with Congressman Frost. This crucial legislation would save people money and increase the number of those with allergies who can afford to carry epinephrine auto-injectors. Both Congressman Frost and I know how severe allergies can impact our lives and families, and this important bill would help patients and families throughout the country to prioritize their children’s safety.”
The proposed legislation from the Central Florida Democrat has been endorsed by some of the leading allergy organizations, such as Allergy and Asthma Network, Allergy Strong, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Doctors for America, and Food Allergy Research and Education.
Organizations impacted by the rising costs of auto injectors also support the legislation, including: the American Federation of Teachers, Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, and MomsRising.
“On behalf of the more than 33 million Americans with potentially life-threatening food allergies who rely on epinephrine auto-injectors to stay alive, FARE is grateful for Representative Frost’s leadership in introducing legislation that would cap the costs our community pays for their epinephrine auto-injectors,” said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO of FARE. “We proudly endorse this bill, will support it on Capitol Hill, and encourage other U.S. House members to cosponsor this critical legislation.”
“The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology applauds the intent of this bill in requiring health plans to cover self-administered epinephrine for anaphylaxis while protecting patients from overly burdensome cost-sharing for their life-saving medication,” said Todd Mahr, MD, Executive Medical Director, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
“Treating anaphylaxis with epinephrine is one of the rare instances in medicine where a condition that can kill so quickly can be cured so simply,” said Eric Sullivan, MD – Chair of the Access to Affordable Care Impact Area of Doctors for America. “Yet price gouging by pharmaceutical companies has limited access to this life saving medication. The EPIPEN Act will not only save families money but will protect the lives of the most vulnerable – those who have been unable to fill their prescription due to cost. Doctors for America strongly supports Congressman Front’s vital legislation and urges swift passage of the bill by Congress.”
“As aviation’s first responders, Flight Attendants are trained to handle all sorts of on-board emergencies, including severe allergic reactions that require an epinephrine injector,” said Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants, CWA. “For many Flight Attendants and millions of other Americans, having an epinephrine injector on hand can be a matter of life or death. Profiteering corporations have raised prices far beyond any reasonable level, forcing working Americans to make impossible choices. We are proud to endorse Rep. Maxwell Frost’s EPIPEN Act to cap the price of these life-saving devices and ensure no American suffers or dies because they couldn’t afford this urgent treatment.”
“As a federally qualified health center committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive healthcare at an affordable cost to everyone, True Health firmly supports efforts that make healthcare more accessible and affordable,” foster healthier communities and empower individuals to take control of their own health,” said Janelle Dunn, Chief Executive Officer, True Health. “We understand that medical devices and prescription medications, including EpiPens, are key components of care that must be affordable in order to see healthier and more vibrant communities. We commend any initiatives or policies that aim to reduce the cost of these essential elements of healthcare. By working together to address the affordability of healthcare and its associated costs, we can.”
“We applaud Rep. Frost for introducing federal legislation that would put a price cap on epinephrine auto-injectors,” said Lynda A. Mitchell, CEO, Allergy & Asthma Network. “High out-of-pocket costs for these potentially life-saving medications put Americans with severe allergies at risk for poor health outcomes and deepen health inequities. Several states have implemented price caps for epinephrine auto-injectors, but the rising cost of these devices is a nationwide issue. People who are uninsured, under-insured or live in a low-income home should not have to risk filling their prescription given the expense.”
“EpiPens save lives when anaphylaxis, which can be deadly if not treated quickly, occurs, but the cost is still prohibitive for many moms and families and that puts lives at unnecessary risk,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising. “In order to be safe, since anaphylaxis can occur in 15 minutes to one hour of exposure, multiple EpiPens are often needed by people who have anaphylactic allergies as schools regularly require them and EpiPens are also needed at home as well as with the people who have the allergy when they are out of the home. And for families with multiple members with allergies, in particular, EpiPens are also not affordable right now. Capping the price is an urgent priority so that parents, teachers, and others can have these auto-injectors at the ready whenever someone has a severe anaphylactic reaction, which happens without warning. We commend U.S. Representative Maxwell Frost, and all the cosponsors of the EPIPEN Act, for introducing legislation that would cap the cost of these life-saving devices at $60 for two injectors. This vitally important bill would help ensure that people with health insurance with high deductibles no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars for EpiPens – or go without them. America’s moms urge leaders in both chambers of Congress to prioritize passage of the EPIPEN Act. There’s no time to waste.”
View the EPIPEN Act legislation online.