If there were too many mice in Milbridge, Dr. Cathleen London might have built a better mousetrap. Instead, the rising numbers of uninsured patients with allergy conditions inspired her to adapt an emergency auto-injector at a fraction of the $600 cost offered by the company that manufactures EpiPens.
This week the Illinois-based Mylan company began a worldwide voluntary recall of its EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. allergy shots. In a prepared statement, Mylan said its nonrefillable auto-injectors were being recalled as a result of two claims outside of the United States that the auto-injectors failed to activate because of a potential defect in a supplier component.
The fact that the auto-injectors might not work was not a major concern for London, a Milbridge family physician, who says her patients found Mylan’s $600 pricetag for two nonrefillable devices beyond their reach. So instead, London came up with an alternative that costs $50.
“Last summer, it took me about 10 pages into Google to come across this device, the Auto-Ject 2,” London says. “It’s made by a company in England called Owen and Mumford and they market it for people who are giving themselves injections, predominantly insulin, but it’s really for any medication.”
In addition to its low price, London’s injector can be refilled at $2.50 per dose of epinephrine — something that can’t be done with an EpiPen.
While some doctors may have reservations about the risk of patients refilling the device themselves, London says her patients face a greater risk by not having access to the drug and delivery system because the brand name is prohibitively expensive.
Gordon Smith of the Maine Medical Association praised London for her innovation.
“There’s so many things that discourage physicians in health care today and that leads to burn out and frustration and people are more prone to just give up,” he says. “So to see something as innovative and creative as Dr. London has done with the EpiPen should be noted and supported.”
So far, London has sold about a dozen of her adapted auto-injectors to her patients.