GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- By now you've heard that the price of an EpiPen standard two-pack has risen $500 since 2009.
As the sticker shock intensifies, some are wondering how the price hike will affect schools.
But while Michigan law requires all schools have at least two EpiPens on site, school officials tell FOX 17 that schools don't have to cover the cost, thanks to the EpiPen4Schools® program, where Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen pen, supplies the injectable device to all public, charter, and private schools K-12.
The question now is how long and how many EpiPens Mylan will continue to donate as the EpiPen price tag continues to rise?
"Having EpiPens means we have emergency medication available to help children that have life threatening allergies, and it really does save lives," Stephanie Painter said, the director of Grand Rapids Public Schools health programs.
Painter tells FOX 17 that GRPS uses roughly six to eight EpiPens a year. Though life has no price, GRPS is saving lives for free.
"When we looked at the prices last year, to estimate the cost for the state as we're required to do, we estimated a cost of $25,000 for the EpiPens to the district," she said.
A recent survey unscored the importance of access to epinephrine in schools. The survey included more than 6,000 schools participating in the EpiPen4Schools® program during the 2013-2014 academic year:
- More than 1,000 episodes of anaphylaxis were reported.
- More than 75% of the anaphylactic episodes were treated with epinephrine auto-injectors.
Since 2013, the EpiPen4Schools® Initiative has distributed more than 700,000 free EpiPens to approximately half of all U.S. schools.
Painter wonders who would pay if Mylan stopped donating their device. "Each school needs one set of the EpiPens. If you multiply that by the number of schools we have in Grand Rapids, it would be quite cost prohibitive," Painter said.
Turns out, it's a price GRPS will never have to pay. Funding for placing EpiPens in schools would come from the state or the federal government.
But for now, there's no indication Mylan will stop providing the EpiPens free to schools. They tell FOX 17 they're continuing their mission to increase access to the emergency allergy medication and to save lives.
"We’re continuing this mission to expand access to epinephrine in public entities beyond schools; 28 states now have entity epinephrine stocking legislation," Mylan said in a statement sent to FOX 17.
"We are really fortunate that Mylan provides EpiPens free to the schools," Painter said. "So we can plan ahead for those kind of things instead of waiting until after it happens."
Students with a known allergy are asked to provide their own EpiPens to be sure that they can be taken with the student on field trips or any other activity the student will be involved in.
If your child has severe allergies, notify their school right away.
Mylan says they will be putting out a generic version of the EpiPen that will have a list price of $300. Mylan anticipates having that generic version available in the next couple of weeks.