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Consumer Justice: Rising EpiPen Costs Raise Questions

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) -  For someone with an allergy, an EpiPen can mean the difference between life and death. The price of the indispensable injectable drug has soared in recent years.

Southlake mom Shiva Sahba has seen prices triple in the last year or so. She carried it everywhere until her son went to college. "It's a matter of life and death," she told CBS 11 News.

Her son has allergies to peanuts. Their scariest moment was when he had an allergic reaction while on vacation.  "It was just the Epipen that saved his life," she said. "By the time we got to the hospital he couldn't breathe."

An EpiPen is an injectable form of epinephrine, which can quickly reverse an allergic reaction. Professor Todd Brown, who teaches at Northeastern University's School of Pharmacy, said the increase in prices is, "a bigger issue across most medications in general now."

Brown added, "Pharmaceutical companies have really changed the way they price medications. It used to be related to the impact of the medication. And now it has really changed essentially to how much they can get for a medication."

This is a real problem in the United States. For example, those same EpiPens which cost about $400 here can be purchased for about $85 in France.

Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano believes the system to procure drugs doesn't make any sense here. He said there is no federal regulation on how high drug prices can go. "We have prohibited the government from negotiating prices with drug producers by law, which is crazy thing to have done." Sahba says she has no option but to pay for the injections. She considers herself lucky to be able to afford it. She worries about those who can't afford this life saving drug.

In a statement, the Mylan Corporation, which manufactures EpiPens, said they offer financial help to families who quality. They have also provided free devices to more than 60,000 schools.

For more information on the Mylan assistance program call customer service at 800-395-3376, send an e-mail, or log on to the EpiPen website.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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