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epipenAn EpiPen saved my life on Saturday night.

Well, it saved me a trip to the emergency room.

I have food allergies and ate something off my husband’s plate that caused an anaphylactic reaction. My lips began to tingle. My throat started to close. I struggled to breathe, and my body attempted to throw up the food I just ate. It was gross and scary.

The EpiPen, which is a medical device that administered epinephrine into my body, worked like a charm.

I’m telling you this because food allergies are no joke. Most people don’t know that coughing and vomiting can be a sign of anaphylaxis. A neighbor was just telling me that some kid outside was vomiting, and she turned away in disgust. The kid had an allergic reaction to ice cream. It was the boy’s younger brother who ran inside and got an EpiPen.

(Yeah, man. Neighbors. Worthless. But, more importantly, thank goodness for little brothers!)

Food allergies are everywhere, and I was critical of Mylan for jacking up the price of an EpiPen. But there’s no doubt that the EpiPen saves lives, and it has some value in our society. It’s not just one thing that makes it magical, either.

1. There’s the autoinjector, which works without jamming up. It doesn’t have a hair-trigger and doesn’t hurt when it administers the epinephrine.

2. There’s the design, which is easy enough to use during anaphylaxis or by an untrained professional who’s just trying to help.

3. And there’s the packaging, which does its best to keep epinephrine stored in a safe and stable manner.

Should an EpiPen cost over $500? Should the CEO make a bajillion dollars? Should American pharmaceutical companies be allowed to corner the market and gouge consumers to determine the highest possible price point?

No, but highly-skilled labor isn’t cheap, and neither is investing and building out a roadmap for future medical devices that auto-inject epinephrine. And there’s an exhausting path that pharmaceutical companies must take to prove that drugs work and don’t cause other problems.

I generally avoid healthcare discussions when there are only either/or scenarios to consider, mostly because I don’t want to hear your dumb point of view on healthcare. There are smart people out there with good ideas, but the polarizing nature of our politics won’t let those practical solutions rise to the surface.

But it’s important for me to share the signs of an anaphylactic reaction. It can happen in kids and adults. If you see a kid vomiting in your neighborhood, don’t turn away like an asshole. Be a responsible human being and offer some help.

And don’t be so quick to jump on the latest social media bandwagon and hate on something just because other people hate it. Mylan has a lot of nerve pretending like the executive team earned its inflated salary because of product innovation. (They made it because of marketing and lobbying.) But, you know, thank goodness for the EpiPen. I’m here because of it.

Now let’s see some investment, disruption, and innovation in the market so that other people can survive an anaphylactic reaction, too.

4 Responses to An EpiPen Saved My Life
  1. Fred

    I sure am glad you’re doing fine Laurie!! We have EpiPen(s) for my son who is the only in my family with a peanut allergy. I totally agree with everything you say here. The justification is ridiculous for extortion is ridiculous, but we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the product was worthless. Something needs to be done to control the market.

    • ruettimann

      Thank you. You’re right.

  2. B

    Glad you are well, Laurie! Long ago enough, I reported to a horrible shrew (I can comfortably say that now) who told me my allergies were, and I quote, “just made up and all in your head. It’s all another reason for medical companies to make more money from peoples imaginary crap.”

  3. Brenda Le

    My husband has horrible food allergies and in addition to the Epipen, I now ask waiters and chefs about cross contamination. He used to want to climb under the table, but he’s learned that my questions keep him out of the ER. Really good chefs will go out of their way to make his food good. Food allergies are very real. Let’s hope our pharmaceutical industry can reach a goal that is fair to all parties involved. Thanks for sharing, hope you feel better.