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article imageOp-Ed: Outrageous EpiPen prices drive some people to make their own

By Karen Graham     Sep 25, 2016 in Health
There is one sure way to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in people. All you have to do is say "it can't be done." Social media sites, including Twitter and YouTube, are awash with instructions on how to make your own EpiPen, and that is dangerous.
People who depend on the life-saving drug epinephrine used in the EpiPen to treat potentially fatal allergic reactions, either their own or a child's or loved one's, don't need to be told about Mylan Pharmaceuticals' price-gouging or the recent federal scrutiny.
This writer personally knows what it is like to have a severe allergic reaction and the terror that comes as the throat swells and closes off, making breathing near to impossible. For people like me and those of us with severe asthma, epinephrine is indeed a lifesaver.
The resulting furor over pricing has taken on a life of its own, leaving some people to wonder if the auto-injector apparatus used in the EpiPen is really needed to give yourself a dose of epinephrine. Many people are asking if it wouldn't be cheaper to just get a prescription for the life-saving medicine and inject it yourself when it is needed?
Twitter #epinephrine
This very question has been raised on social media, Internet health blogs and even in the local news around the country. This writer went to YouTube and typed in "DIY EpiPen" today. I got 844 videos, with quite a number of them describing how to make my own device for injecting epinephrine, including a "3D Printed Epi Injector under $10."
DIY devices are dangerous and risky
There are many problems associated with making your own device for injecting a medication, some of them legal. Interestingly, the FDA can't do anything about DIY devices for injecting epinephrine because as long as you have a prescription for the medication, the components needed for making the device are all perfectly legal.
But apparently, when the components are put together to make a device for the purpose of injection, it becomes a medical product under the jurisdiction of the FDA.
Theresa Eisenman, an FDA spokeswoman, was quoted by WTVR Richmond: “Using unapproved prescription drugs for personal use is a potentially dangerous practice,” Eisenman said. “Neither FDA nor the American public has any assurance that unapproved products are effective, safe or produced under Current Good Manufacturing Practices.‎ Unapproved drugs may be contaminated, sub-potent, super-potent or counterfeit.”
Twitter #epipen
Injecting epinephrine yourself using a DIY device
But the riskiest and most dangerous threat is to the patient wanting to use a DIY method to inject epinephrine. If epinephrine is injected when it is not needed, it can cause an increase in the heart rate and this can lead to other problems. This is just as dangerous as not giving enough of the medication when it is needed.
And in an emergency, if the dose needed is not correct, there is the possible risk of death. One of the good things about an EpiPen is that it requires only one hand to give the injection while filling a syringe properly requires two hands. Even if a doctor gives someone a pre-filled syringe with the correct dose of epinephrine, it presents legal challenges for the doctor.
Health care experts say the best advice right now is to ignore all the videos and suggestions on how to make your own device. It is not worth your life.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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