Rise in Food Allergies Means Big Business for EpiPen

Mylan lobbies to relax prescription rules for epinephrine injections

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 8, 2012 8:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – With severe food allergies on the rise in the United States, anaphylactic reactions are an increasing problem, especially at schools. But, in most states, school nurses risk losing their license if they give an epinephrine injection to a student who does not have a prescription—even though up to a quarter of at-risk students are unaware they have the deadly allergy. So now big pharmaceutical company Mylan, the maker of EpiPen, the dominant epinephrine injector, is lobbying for federal and state laws to allow for injections in emergencies, reports the New York Times.

"When a child is having an anaphylactic reaction, the only thing that can save her life is epinephrine,” says the chief executive of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. “911 doesn’t get there fast enough." Mylan is even passing out free EpiPens to qualifying schools as it seeks to make EpiPens as ubiquitous as external defibrillators. But these moves are not without controversy, as the EpiPen is expected to bring in $640 million for Mylan this year, up about 75% over last year. “I think this goes to the heart of being able to do good and do well,” says its chief executive.

A demonstration of the EpiPen Auto Injector, used to counter anaphylaxis, the deadly allergic reaction some people have to certain foods.   (Flickr)
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