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Price of EpiPens skyrockets - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Price of EpiPens skyrockets

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INDIANAPOLIS -

An EpiPen is never far away in the Henegar household, where dinner time is a cautious time. Of the family's six children, two have severe food allergies: Cora, 3 and Ellie, 7. It's why both girls never leave their Indianapolis-area home without their fanny packs.

As a baby, Ellie's allergic reactions were so severe, hives covered her entire body. Her family has twice used the EpiPen to save her life.

"Her lips turned blue, she started swelling, she wasn't able to breathe," mom Lexi said.

They have to replace the injectors every year when they expire. The Henegars remember paying as little as $80 for them five or six years ago before they switched to a high-deductible health plan.

"We really noticed it in the past year, year and a half when we went to go have it filled. It was $600," Lexi said.

In 2009, pharmacies paid slightly more than $100 for a two-pack of EpiPens. The price has since skyrocketed to more than $600.

Bloomberg senior medical reporter Robert Langreth says the manufacturer of the device, Mylan, has a virtual monopoly after its main competitor launched a recall last fall.

"This brand name, EpiPen, it's like Kleenex to allergists," Langreth said.

Langreth says the company has remarketed the decades-old device without making any significant changes since acquiring it in 2007.

In a statement, Mylan tells CBS News the EpiPen's price "has changed over time to better reflect important product features and the value the product provides," saying, "We've made a significant investment to support the device over the past years."

The Henegars are fearful the price could continue to go up with no competition.

The company offers coupons which have allowed many patients to pay nothing out of pocket. Those coupons are worth up to $100, so families with high deductibles like the Henegars are still on the hook for the majority of the cost.

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