Coronavirus Facts First

Local ambulance agencies no longer using EpiPens

Local News

When a person’s throat swells and they’re unable to breathe from an allergic reaction, the go-to solution for years has usually involved an EpiPen.

Recently, the device’s manufacturer, Mylan, has inflated prices by 500% from what it was back in 2009. 

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) knows all-too-well the severity of allergic reactions and how important this device can be. Her daughter had to use one when she was just four-years-old. 

“To do that to a parent, to tell them, well yeah that costs $100 five years ago, but now it costs $600. That just can’t happen in this country,” said Sen. Klobuchar, who is now calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan has violated anti-trust laws.

Meanwhile ambulances agencies across New York State have fought to avoid these costs by finding new ways to deliver the same medicine.

Monroe Ambulance EMT and Social Media Coordinator Jon LeRoy said, “under state law for many years, we’ve had to carry auto-injectors for both adults and pediatric patients, so we’re getting hit with the double cost and affects our bottom line as well.”

LeRoy pointed out ambulance agencies are no longer required to use EpiPens in New York, as his agency did away with them in February.

In it’s place, he and his fellow EMTs have been trained to do something that up until recently, only paramedics were allowed to do.

“In the presence of a severe allergic reaction, we can actually take the traditional syringe and needle, draw it up, and administer it the exact same way as an EpiPen would be at a much lower cost,” said LeRoy.

He added, this ‘new’ method is no different for the patient than using an EpiPen.

“You’re going to get the medicine delivered the exact same way, the way that we actually get it to you, in terms of what we need to do, is the only part that changes and there’s very little time difference at all,” said LeRoy.

Until the price of EpiPens begin to fall, EMTs like LeRoy, around the state, are going to continue to administer the drug using these ‘Check-and-Inject’ kits.

So far, Leroy said no EMTs with Monroe Ambulance have had to use the kit, but allergic reactions do happen more often in the Summer.

Several other local agencies like AMR and Henrietta Ambulance have transitioned to the new ‘Check-and-Inject’ kits for their patients as well. 

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