LETTER: Who would oppose EpiPen affordability?

Submitted by Svetlana Wasserman, Greenwich

I was thrilled to read that a bill overwhelmingly passed the CT House of Representatives that would limit co-pays on epinephrine cartridge injectors (generic versions of the  EpiPen®) to $25.

EpiPens saves lives when patients are suffering from severe allergic or respiratory reactions. The cost of EpiPens gained national headlines when the companies Mylan and Pfizer became the subjects of federal lawsuits for price-gouging and agreed to a combined settlement of $609 million.

After Mylan acquired the EpiPen brand, it had raised the price for this life-saving delivery system from $57 to over $500. The situation has improved somewhat since generic EpiPens have entered the market, but they are still very expensive, costing between $300-$600. Considering that most people who use them need multiple packs (home, school, etc), the price of survival is high.

The hearing on this bill included testimony from college students describing how they have to carry expired EpiPens because they cannot afford new ones, and mothers talking about the prohibitive cost of keeping their children with allergies safe.

Hence my relief to read that the CT House of Representatives almost unanimously – 142 to 4 – approved a $25 cap for certain insurance policies to limit co-pays on generic epinephrine cartridge injectors. But who, I wondered, would vote against this?

Upon inspection, I was surprised to learn that our representative, Kimberly Fiorello of the 149th district, was one of only four people who rejected this commonsense measure that would save the lives of her constituents. It certainly wasn’t due to partisanship. Fifty of the 54 GOP members of the House voted in favor of this bill.

Upon further examination, I learned that being part of a tiny voting minority is not unusual for Fiorello. For example, she was one of only two judiciary committee members to vote against a bill that requires timely notification by police of a death to the next of kin. She was one of only four committee members who voted against a bill that would use federal money to track illegally sold or used firearms in the state. And she was one of only three committee members who voted against a bill that would provide guidelines for the tethering of dogs outside in extreme weather.

The areas of Greenwich and Stamford that Fiorello represents are a diverse community and certainly do not reflect the outlying votes that she cast.  Fortunately, this November we will have a choice.