EpiPencil is the $30 DIY version of the $600 EpiPen

EpiPen
CC BY 2.0 Vu Nguyen

Feeling the pinch of the recent EpiPen price hike? Here's one possible solution.

Chances are, we all probably know at least one person who has potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to experiences that the rest of us just shrug off, such as a bee sting, and although there is a fairly simple remedy for many of these allergic reactions - the EpiPen, which makes it easy for even an untrained individual to inject a dosage of epinephrine - the recent news of an outrageous price hike for the EpiPen may keep many people from carrying one.

For those of you who've been under a rock for the last few months, Mylan, the manufacturer of the EpiPen, raised the price of the device to a sky-high $600 (from a price of less than $100 for a set of two in 2007), and considering that these devices also 'expire' each year and need to be replaced, and often need to be 'stocked' in homes and vehicles and schools for susceptible individuals, this pharma-gouging has many parents and caregivers searching for another affordable option.

While free market capitalist apologists explain away the price hikes as business as usual, those who stand to die without the medicine after something as common as a bee sting or an otherwise harmless food item have been quick to criticize Mylan as imposing an undue financial burden on its customers. Regardless of whether Mylan is merely doing as corporate entities are wont to due (increase profits) or it is engaging in price gouging, the end result is the same - people may not be able to afford to have a proven life-saving remedy on hand because of the high costs.

However, a self-described group of "pharma hackers" has a solution, at least for the DIY crowd, with its design of the EpiPencil. Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is "dedicated to providing access to everyone" so that life-changing (life-saving) medicines can be available to those who would normally be locked out of access because of lack of funds. The group has developed what it calls the Apothecary MicroLab, an "an open-source automated lab reactor" which would allow people to make their own medications.

The group also just recently released plans for its EpiPencil, which is a DIY version of the EpiPen, but which costs just $30 in materials. Here's the video, and the link to the rest of the plans is underneath the video:

"WHEREAS The pharmaceutical industry continues to put profits above human life, and

WHEREAS Autoinjectors and epinephrine are technology which belongs to the world, and

WHEREAS EpiPens save lives every day, but only for those who can afford them, and

SINCE The Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is dedicated to providing access to everyone

WE HAVE developed the EpiPencil, an epinephrine autoinjector which can be built entirely using off-the-shelf parts, for just over $30 US."

The epinephrine requires a doctor's prescription, but the rest of the materials, including an auto-injector, syringes, and needles, can be sourced independently by the builder, and then put together at home. Since I'm not a doctor, and I don't even play one on the internet, I need to remind you to use your best judgement and consult a health professional before making or using a device such as this one.

More about Four Thieves Vinegar Collective.

[Editor's note: For another take, please read Should you really make your own EpiPen? on sister site Mother Nature Network.]

Tags: Do It Yourself | Health

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