Paramedics replace expensive EpiPens with a simple syringe


[image credit: KUTV Salt Lake]

Manufacturer charges astronomic price for lifesaving treatment

When Mylan Pharmaceuticals raised the price of EpiPen by 600%, the Salt Lake City Fire Department (which oversees paramedics and EMTs) struggled to afford the price hike.

Solution: A slightly less sophisticated alternative can be dramatically cheaper

Cary Turner, EMT trainer and coordinator for the city, went on a mission to find a cheaper alternative to the EpiPen device. After obtaining approval from the city, he turned to a simple syringe and vial of epinephrine.

“It does exactly the same thing,” Turner said, holding up the kit. “This was $3.50 versus $400.”

The process of correctly dosing out the correct amount of epinephrine is slightly more complicated, and required a few minutes of training for the paramedics, but there have been no incidents since the change.

According to a local pharmacy, rank-and-file citizens are able to obtain a vial of epinephrine for a few dollars, with a doctor’s prescription.

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Limitations & Criticisms

  • This may work for a trained EMT, but is significantly harder for consumers. We need to make the auto-injector accessible.
    • Take the autoinjector off-patent


Category: Healthcare


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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