Jimmy Kimmel Took a Dig at EpiPen Prices During the Emmys

On Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, host Jimmy Kimmel did a bit with the kids from Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the audience.

Before getting back to the awards, Kimmel warned, “If you have a peanut allergy, I guess this is goodbye because we could only afford one EpiPen.”

Kimmel’s dig may have seemed quick and little, but he was referring to a massive problem: Since 2007, EpiPen’s wholesale pricing went from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. Some consumers are left paying upwards of $600 for a two-pack (the only way the drug can be sold). When outrage sparked over another price increase this summer, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens, announced it is offering a copay assistance program that will take $300 off the price consumers pay for EpiPens. Mylan claims it is also making it easier to qualify for its patient assistance program which provides free EpiPens to under-insured or uninsured families.

“We’re seeing a lot of [people struggling to afford their EpiPens] because of high-deductible [insurance] plans or patients being inadequately insured,” Sakina Bajowala, M.D, told The Mighty earlier this year. “The root cause of this is that Mylan has made the poor decision to jack up prices by hundreds of percents over the last few years.”

Image of an EpiPen

“I think it’s a shame. Patients are struggling with this and doctors are too,” said Jennifer Caudle, D.O., Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The first thing I thought was ‘Oh my gosh.’ This isn’t Tylenol. This is a life-saving medication. People die every year from anaphylactic shock.”

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including one in 13 children under the age of 18. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that causes over 300,000 pediatric visits to the emergency room each year. When the signs of anaphylaxis – difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness – occur, timely delivery of epinephrine, the medication in an EpiPen, can be the difference between life and death.

Kimmel’s quip won’t likely be the most talked about joke of the night, but it’s rare that a health story like this gets any kind of mention in primetime television. Now, if only we could get this problem solved.

Related: Here’s What You Should Know If You Are Struggling to Afford an Epipen

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