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City school district secured EpiPens before price spike

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

With a huge spike in the price for a life-saving shot, school districts are wondering how they will be affected in the future. The Buffalo Public School District was able to secure free EpiPens this school year, but there is uncertainty once they run out.

"I was a little taken back. A spike in cost that significant you don't general see especially with a product that has been around so long,” said Audrey Tobin, Kaleida Health's Nurse Manager for the School Based Center Health program that serves the Buffalo schools.  

EpiPens are prescribed to those who have a history of allergic reactions. The device is used for anaphylactic emergencies. Tobin explained that the District's medical director Dr. Steven Lana wrote an order to the maker Mylan, securing free EpiPens for all the city schools.

“So every site has an EpiPen Junior and a regular EpiPen and it was no cost to the district. We were very fortunate. They were donated by the company,” Tobin explained. 

The EpiPen cost jumped from about $400 to over $700.  Tobin tells WBFO News the supply should last the school year, but with the price spike, she's now concerned about what will happen for the following school year.

“However, we don’t know if we will be able to secure those next year with this spike in cost. That’s our fear. We have not heard from the company yet. We have not reached out either, because we are good through March of 2017, so we will go through that process again in about December,”  Tobin remarked.

The cost of the EpiPen is the reason the district works to secure the free samples.

“The reason why we obtained these free samples for every Buffalo Public School site is because the parents maybe could not afford to provide an Epi to the school,” Tobin explained.

Tobin said there are number of students with sever allergies in the Buffalo district and the EpiPens do get used. The number one food allergy in the city district remains the peanut allergy.