LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When Kendall Hollinger was just two days old, she stopped breathing. She was diagnosed with severe food allergies.
“I’m allergic to 95 percent of all foods, so I have a feeding tube and that’s how I get most of my nutrition, but everything else I am anaphylaxis to,” said Hollinger.
So the 19-year-old has to carry around an epinephrine auto-injector – or EpiPen – wherever she goes.
“It’s my life saver and it’s saved my life eight times,” she said.
Her mother Kim says she has watched the cost of the life-saving drug skyrocket from $100 in 2007 to more than $600 today.
“There was times we went without everything, because she has to have it,” Kim told CBS2’s Kristine Lazar.
Today, State Senator Ed Hernandez held an informational hearing in downtown L.A. on the rising cost of the EpiPen, and what he calls price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.
“They have no competition,” Hernandez said. “They have the patents and they have the ability to raise prices. Yes, everybody should be able to profit, but not so much to gouge the customers and the patients.”
Cathy Owens, a longtime school nurse in Murrieta, says parents are now sending their medically fragile kids to school without an EpiPen because they can’t afford it.
“Parents who hand their children over to us, at school they rest on their laurels thinking we have stock epi and there will be medication for their child, and tragically that medication may or may not be there.”
Sen. Hernandez, chair of the senate committee on health, introduced a bill last year to regulate skyrocketing drug prices. But he says it was quickly squashed by opposition from drug companies.
A representative of Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, was invited to today’s hearing, but they didn’t show.
“I don’t think they care. I think it’s business as usual and they’re driven by one thing — profits.” said Hernandez.
A Mylan spokesperson tells us they’ve agreed to meet with Hernandez at a future date- and that the company only makes about $ 100 in profit off of each EpiPen kit.