Recent reports of rising price increases of the EpiPen® epinephrine auto-injector in the United States have caused concern for Canadian consumers, many of them parents who are getting their children ready for back-to-school. In response to several media and public inquiries, we thought it would be helpful to provide context around the Canadian situation.
In Canada a regulatory process is in place to determine pricing for drugs such as the EpiPen®. The price has remained stable and is approximately $100 to $120, depending on location and pharmacy dispensing fees. Currently, only EpiPen®, distributed by Pfizer Canada, is available; it is sold as a single unit (the EpiPen 2-pak® is not sold in Canada).
Food allergies are a growing public health concern for over 2.5 million Canadians. Given that even a small amount of an allergen, if ingested, could cause a serious allergic reaction and be potentially life-threatening, access to epinephrine medication is essential. Thousands more are at risk with allergies to stinging insects, drugs, and latex.
We advise all Canadians at risk of an anaphylactic reaction to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times, in case of an emergency. We believe strongly that everyone who requires this potentially life-saving medication should have it, regardless of price or ability to pay.
While we are fortunate to live in a country with a strong public health care system, we recognize that there are Canadians who are not covered by a private or public drug plan and may not be able to afford an EpiPen®, even at the lower Canadian price. For those who are covered by a drug plan, issues of deductible costs or annual limits on epinephrine auto-injectors may also cause financial challenges.
To better understand the consumer experience Food Allergy Canada is currently engaged in a major research study, Global review of epinephrine availability and anaphylaxis management practices amongst patient organization countries, led by McMaster University and international allergy organizations. We encourage consumers at risk for anaphylaxis (or parents of children) to complete the survey. Data from this study will help engage many important stakeholders – from healthcare, government, industry, and the public – in a dialogue that addresses potential long-term solutions.
Access to affordable medicine is not just an issue for people at risk of an anaphylactic reaction; it is an important public policy challenge for all Canadians. Food Allergy Canada is committed to engaging many in this conversation. The bottom line is this: no Canadian who requires epinephrine or other life-saving medication should go without.
For more information and resources on safely managing allergies, including the proper use of the EpiPen®, please visit foodallergycanada.ca.