EpiPen price hike drawing local criticism, highlighting need for more research

SEATTLE-- A life-saving drug for people with allergies just got a lot more expensive. The EpiPen is a drug many people use to fight serious allergic reactions.

Having a child with a peanut allergy isn’t easy for West Seattle mom Lindsay Yost.

"We have to make sure he’s covered everywhere he goes because it could happen anywhere," said Yost.

It’s why the EpiPen is so important for her son Carson.

"You have to have that life-saving device in order to keep them safe and now the only device left is the EpiPen so we have to have that available," said Yost.

However, the pens come at a premium. The Yosts paid $500 for their two pens only because she had found a $100 off coupon. Otherwise, she would have had to pay $600.

"I know there are families in our school that are going to have to choose between food and EpiPen," said Yost.

This week, federal lawmakers demanded answers about why the price of the EpiPen went up 400 percent. Some believe it’s because an alternative medication is no longer available.

Dr. Jane Buckner with the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason agrees the EpiPens are critical. However, she hopes one day, we won’t need them. The institute just received an $8 million grant to fight allergies and asthma from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"We certainly haven’t gotten to the point where we can prevent these diseases or cure them, so the whole point of doing research is to see why people get them and to be able to treat them better," said Buckner.

The grant will help investigators at BRI, UW Medicine and Seattle Children's Research Institute to collaborate on research to find new treatments and therapies.

However, until that cure is found, it’ll be hard for families like the Yosts to rest easy.

Yost is hoping that schools in the state will start getting stock EpiPens but not all of them do. In her case, she has to provide the EpiPen to the school to use for her son.