Yellow jackets and EpiPens
Their work for the year almost done, the yellow jacket wasps now have time to explore human
spaces, and the leftovers they contain.
There is much to explore. Fruit is ripening on the trees and bushes. The last of the sugary summer
drinks are being spilled on decks and patios. The wasps are out in large numbers, tasting it all.
We appear to be heading into a record fall wasp season. Yellow jackets seem to be everywhere already, especially if they make you nervous.
Most people have little reason to worry about wasps, provided they resist the urge to swat them, and avoid their nests. But for some people the hyper-activity of autumn yellow jackets is the season of fear.
Large wasp populations are likely the result of a milder winter. More queens than usual lived through it. Wasps die off during the winter, except for some queens who live to start new colonies each spring.
My wife recently walked into a yellow jacket nest and suffered about two dozen stings. She is not allergic to their venom, thankfully. Many people who are carry an EpiPen, the epinephrine injector that buys time for anyone suffering severe allergy shock.
EpiPen is the only easy-to-carry, easy and quick-to-use medicine for people who suffer severe allergy shock. This includes many children dangerously allergic to some food items, peanuts to name a common one.
EpiPen is the focus of a yet another pricing scandal in the United States. Profit greed has tripled the price of the life-saving device in the U.S. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which acquired the EpiPen rights in 2007, has increased its price by more than 400 per cent.
The drug epinephrine itself costs only pennies. The EpiPen allows for super fast, uncomplicated delivery. You simply take it from its plastic case and jab it against your thigh.
So if you live in the U.S., have a severe allergy to stings, or have a child with a food allergy, you have to cough up at least $600 U.S. The pens expire after 12 months.
Teresa Voght Lisek, interviewed for the Mother Nature Network, said her husband and two children each have severe allergies. She says that extra pens must be kept in several locations in case of emergency. Buying enough to cover them safely would cost $5,600.
The cost of one EpiPen in Ontario is just over $100 Canadian plus provincial tax. Our health-care system protects us from any outrageous price increase like the one in the States, but don’t be shocked if someone finds a loophole.
The U.S. price of an EpiPen was $57 when Mylan acquired it nine years ago.
Mylan’s EpiPen price increases mean that some people simply cannot afford to buy the protection. They are left to take their chances. Meanwhile, Mylan’s chief, Heather Bresch, 47, received $19 million in compensation last year for doing such a great job.
She is unapologetic about the outrageous price increases on a drug and delivery device that many people need to save their lives.
“I am running a business,” she told The New York Times. “I am a for-profit business. I am not hiding from that.”
Ms. Bresch has experience with controversy. A report by the University of West Virginia said she was awarded a business degree, 10 years after attending classes and without completing the course work because her father was West Virginia’s governor. He now is a senator.
Senator and daughter might get to meet face to face in Congress. A special Senate committee has called on Mylan to appear before it to explain the price increases.
Mylan also has angered some Washington politicians for moving its headquarters to the Netherlands in 2014, a move that reduced its tax rate and prevented a takeover that its investors had favoured.
The company will not say how much it makes off EpiPen but sales of the pen exceed $1 billion.
Meanwhile, if you want to keep wasps at bay, try this: Mix one cup of hand soap with 20 drops of peppermint oil. Top up with water and put in a spray bottle. Spray in areas wasps frequent.