Teachers, EpiPens, and “Educational” Anaphylactic Shock

In the summer of 1988, I was at the family farm in northeast Georgia feeding calves in a shelter located behind my uncle’s veterinary clinic. I entered the doorway and immediately was greeted by a red wasp who took a small divet out of the tip of my nose while injecting its venom.

I immediately went into anaphylactic shock. My eyes were literally swelling up to the point that I couldn’t see straight.

Luckily someone called ahead and because it was a small town (3,500 people), there was not much of a drive to “downtown” where the doctor was waiting for me. He drove a large needle into my thigh and told me to sit down and wait to see if I had any reactions to the medicine that he gave me for having an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.

My face had swollen up so much that I had a hard time even closing my lips together. For the next month, I looked as if I had barely escaped a bar room brawl with my life.

So began a life married to EpiPens.


You have to replace them regularly. Their shelf life lasts maybe a little of over a year. And in the space of maybe three to four years, the price of this drug, which has no generic, has skyrocketed almost %500.

Any food allergy can cause anaphylactic shock which requires the use of an EpiPen. That’s about 15 million people, many of whom attend public schools.

The company that owns the market on EpiPens is Mylan, whose price gouging of the life preserving drug has become the subject of a government inquiry. The CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, has defended the price hike as a necessary move within the business world, part of which is a compensation package for her and other executives that has grown faster than the price of EpiPens themselves.

It’s business world setting the price standard and availability for a necessary, life-preserving product that many cannot afford now.

All in the name of profit.

There’s a strong correlation to what is happening to the people who need EpiPens and those who need public schools to be supported and fully funded by tax payer money.

How so? When business style corporate reform movements ventured into the world of public education here in North Carolina in the form of unregulated charter schools and veiled vouchers schemes, many students and their families were submitted to a form of “educational” anaphylactic shock.

The very education that is constitutionally stipulated for every student by the state through public schooling was now being controlled by entities like a Mylan. Think of the Achievement School District. Think of charter schools that claim to be public, but run privately. Think of the virtual online schools run by for-profit companies. Think of all of the tests and assessment initiatives contracted out by the state.

In truth, all of society is allergic to “educational” anaphylactic shock. When public schools are not supported adequately, society suffers from a narrowing of societal pathways, a loss in collective blood pressure, and an outbreak that distorts the appearance of our state. We all suffer from that.

Now think of the very remedies that help to offset conditions that could lead to “educational” anaphylactic shock – teachers and support staff like teacher assistants.

That’s right. Teachers and staff are the adrenaline that keep the pulse of public education strong, especially in times of social change.

And just like Mylan is doing with EpiPens, our state government is allowing people to do the same with our teachers – making it more expensive to keep them in our schools for all of our students.

While the price of making an EpiPen has not really changed at all, the desire for profit at the expense of those who really need EpiPens has outweighed the call to provide a necessary service to help people stay alive.

Likewise, as the expenditure of training, resourcing, and respecting the teachers of public schools has been driven down, the desire for profit using tax payer money has grown, like the price of EpiPens.

And what makes this more egregious is that the state of North Carolina is obligated to fully fund and resource public schools along with help from federal and local monies.

It will be more expensive to carry on with “re-forming” efforts like unregulated charter schools and Opportunity Grants (vouchers) in the long run, than to fully support public schools, especially in poverty stricken counties.

Ironically, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. He has defended her actions under the light of scrutiny as legal business practices.

Maybe it would make sense to investigate the relationships between those who profit from public educational “re-forms” and those in state government who allow for them to happen at the expense of people who will be sent into “educational” anaphylactic shock because of them.

Remember, we are all allergic to under-funded public schools.

“Because Every Second Counts”  – just like the package for EpiPens says.