New Mexico families struggle with EpiPen price increase

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – EpiPens are a life-saving necessity for people suffering from severe food allergies, but a recent spike in their price has left many families wondering how to afford them, and still keep food on the table, including many here in New Mexico.

“We have this life threatening disease and we have this medicine that can easily save a life, all of a sudden it’s $800,” said Ivy Rizzo, Director of Food Allergy Support New Mexico.

Rizzo is a mother of two. Both her little boys have severe food allergies. Because of that, every single day she has to make sure her family is carrying an EpiPen.

“It’s like the first thing we think about whenever we’re leaving the house,” said Rizzo.

EpiPens deliver epinephrine, the only medicine that can reverse anaphylactic shock.

“My younger child was only two and he went into anaphylaxis after accidentally ingesting egg. He was grabbing at his throat and saying he couldn’t breathe. I immediately grabbed our EpiPen and hit him in the leg with it. The medicine worked immediately,โ€ said Rizzo.

Rizzo says without the EpiPen her son could’ve died, but thanks to a recent spike in the price of EpiPens, she says many families are now going without them or other necessities to be able to afford them.

Charlesly Joseph has a son that relies on an EpiPen too.

“It just makes you pause when you think about getting extra EpiPens. Of course we always have one that we carry around. It’s frustrating to have to do the math when it comes to something you know could save your kid’s life,โ€ said Joseph.

But as a physician, Joseph says he sees families who can’t afford one at all.

Joseph said, “It makes practicing medicine and getting people what they need a lot more complicated.”

While a plan is in place to roll out a new generic in the coming weeks, families like these still rely on the costly medicine every day.

Food Allergy Support New Mexico says there are also other ways to get epinephrine cheaper, like having a doctor prescribe it in a vial, but many people do not know about that option.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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