Tag Archives: Parenting

Back-to-School, With an EpiPen or Without

Mireille Schwartz and daughter with epipen

Author Mireille Schwartz and her daughter consider the EpiPen

The following is a guest post from Mireille Schwartz, author of the forthcoming When Your Child Has Food Allergies: A Parent’s Guide to Managing it All–From the Everyday to the Extreme (AMACOM April 2017), on this year’s back-to-school pharmacy visit and its collision with the recent EpiPen price controversy.

Two weeks ago, as part of my family’s back-to-school ritual, my daughter and I made an annual trip to our local pharmacy in order to refill her epinephrine auto-injector two-pack prescription. When your child has food allergies, there are certain times each calendar year that are pivotal touchpoints for safety: the birthday party, Halloween, winter holidays, and back-to-school. Families with food allergies survive and thrive with plenty of planning, and with strategies firmly in place to handle and manage the inevitable allergen exposures along the way. The epinephrine auto-injector is a huge part of this strategy.

Once a severe allergic reaction starts, epinephrine is usually the first line of defense to treat the situation. It’s a synthetic adrenaline that can reverse the severe symptoms of an allergic reaction in – literally – seconds. The medication is loaded up into an auto-injectable device, commonly referred to as the ‘EpiPen’ after the best-known brand, and one shot can stop an allergic reaction in its tracks. It’s considered the first and best solution in combating food allergies once they have been triggered. The epinephrine raises dangerously low blood pressure by tightening the blood vessels. The lung muscles relax, breathing eases, and swelling reduces in the throat and face. Then the heart rate increases as blood pressure rises, delivering the epinephrine faster to the whole body.

Unlike antihistamine tablets and syrups like Benadryl – also useful, but not as fast-acting – epinephrine is available by a prescription only, and the shelf-life of the medication is slightly more than 12 months, meaning that refills are needed annually. The back-to-school season is a natural time to re-up: school is the ultimate zone for those inevitable allergen exposures.

The end-of-summer trip to the pharmacy is typically pretty boring, with some waiting around, then the polite small talk with our pharmacist followed by the handoff. This time, however, while we waited, we could see a buzz building behind the counter. Our pharmacist scowled at his computer screen, clicking a button over and over on his keyboard. Our eyes met, he quickly looked away, and he summoned over the head pharmacist. Together they began a quiet and heated discussion with the monitor’s glow on their frowning faces. Next, a third pharmacist walked up and tried her hand at the computer keyboard, while the three conferred in hushed tones.

My daughter and I are dependent on these EpiPens. As inconceivable as it was for me to consider, I had to ask: “Is there a problem with our prescription?” The head pharmacist was apologetic as he told me and my daughter, “I’m sorry, but even with your EpiPen coupon, the charge for your daughter’s medication today is $700.” He was clearly uncomfortable and caught off guard. I asked all of the questions a parent asks: was this for ALL the refills available for the entire year? Was this an error of some kind? The pharmacist couldn’t explain it, and he was as astounded as I was.

For Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the EpiPen, back-to-school is the ultimate time to gouge the customer—a customer desperate and dependent on the product. This price hike also happened directly following the removal of the other leading epinephrine auto-injector, Sanofi’s Auvi-Q that “talked you through” its use, from the market. A generic alternative has not yet arrived for consumers. And so it looks like Mylan, the EpiPen manufacturer, has done the cold and calculated unthinkable to us.

This week I’ve heard countless stories from families dejected to hear the same bad news at their own pharmacies all across the country. In some towns the EpiPen price surpassed $1,000. Families were frightened, many left without their child’s medications. No lifesaving medication for the school year.

Earlier this week, I met with my daughter’s school and handed them her brand new EpiPen two-pack. I also swapped out the soon-to-expire EpiPen two-pack in her personal emergency bag, carried daily in her backpack.

How many other families this week did not?

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Food allergy expert & author MIREILLE SCHWARTZ imparts wisdom gathered during her lifetime with food allergies in her upcoming book, When Your Child Has Food Allergies (AMACOM April 2017). She’ll share the stories behind the stories, and with them the health, safety, efficacy, common sense, and fragilities that make us who we are. “Food is everywhere, and our relationship to food needs to be healthy if we are to stay healthy,” Schwartz says. The author lives with her family in San Francisco.


Kimberly Palmer on Talking to Your Kids About Money

It’s important to talk with your kids about money: as studies show, kids learn about money and how to manage it, wisely or not, from watching and listening to their parents.
Kimberly Palmer, author of SMART MOM, RICH MOM: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family (AMACOM June 2016) and a mom of two, offers the following ideas for conversations that will help kids navigate our complicated financial world:

1) Mistakes You’ve Made with Money. Kids love to hear about their parents’ mistakes, and not just to smirk. It lets them know that it’s okay to be less than perfect. Potential examples to share include waiting to start a 401(k) account, getting into credit card debt, or wasting money on a splurge you regretted.

2) How You Earn Money and Use It. Thanks to direct-deposit, online shopping, and plastic, the exchange of goods and services for cash is almost invisible. Talking about how mom and dad work hard to earn a paycheck so we can turn around and use it to pay for our food, home, clothes, and car can make the virtual world of commerce a little more real.

3) How to Be a Media Critic. Kids are exposed to advertising everywhere: smartphone apps, websites, product placement within TV shows. As kids get older, point out differences between an ad and a show. Teach them to be skeptical of all the promises that advertising makes to get them (or their mom) to spend money.

4) Planning for Big Goals. When your kids start asking for expensive things, as kids tend to do, encourage them to draw a picture of what they want and consider ways the family could save to make that goal possible. Explain how you are making sacrifices to put money toward their future college education.

5) How to Use Credit Cards and Bank Accounts. To kids (and some adults), it’s not at all obvious that you should really try to pay off the full credit card balance each month as opposed to paying the required minimum. Explain why and let kids look over your shoulder as you manage your accounts and pay your bills.

6) Being Assertive (to Companies and Bosses). Let your kids overhear you calling a company to ask for a refund or to demand better service. Help your kids practice asking for more money, perhaps for their allowance or babysitting services, so they can learn the right words to use and get comfortable with the concept of negotiation before they get their first salary offer.

Cover of Smart Mom Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer

Adapted from Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family by Kimberly Palmer (AMACOM June 2016).

KIMBERLY PALMER, author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life, was the senior money editor at US News & World Report for nine years. She is an adjunct professor at American University, where she teaches a course on mastering social media. She lives with her family, including two children, in the Washington, D.C., area.


Random Quotes from New Books This June

75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees by Paul Falcone

Jacket cover of 75 Ways for Managers to Hire Develop and Keep Great Employees by Paul Falcone

“Another crucial aspect of effective communication lies in knowing what not to say. Too many leaders have inadvertently stepped on land mines without realizing it because they either said too much or otherwise made promises or guarantees that they simply couldn’t keep. Knowing what not to say, therefore, is an important part of communication. One common area where such land mines exist has to do with over-promising confidentiality.

If an employee asks to speak with you off the record, train yourself right now to respond like this:

“‘Maybe. It all depends on what you have to say. If it has to do with one of three things, Laura, then I can’t promise confidentiality because I’ll have an affirmative obligation to disclose it to senior leadership: The three things are harassment or discrimination, potential violence in the workplace, or an inherent conflict of interest with the company’s business practices’” (page 101).

Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family by Kimberly Palmer

Jacket cover of Smart Mom Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer

“The biggest takeaway for me from my talks with other moms was that as parents, we can’t be passive about our kids’ financial educations, and especially when it comes to our daughters. As with lessons about healthy eating or safe sex, parents have to take charge of the conversation or kids will start to pick up all sorts of false and even harmful ideas. Between advertising on television and the seemingly magical powers of Amazon Prime, my kids could easily lose a sense of limits and frugality. … I knew that some of my conversations were sinking into my five-year-old’s head, because she started bringing up the topic herself. … When I sat down to pay bills one weekend morning, she asked if she could help me. She sat beside me and watched as I tried to figure out why our water bill had gone up so much from the previous period, and then explained to her dad that we had to look for ways to waste less water(page 162).


june 2016 new releases

Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.

Sample Chapters of 10 LAWS OF TRUST and SMART MOM, RICH MOM

We’ve made sample chapters available for two of our most anticipated books this season–Kimberly Palmer’s Smart Mom, Rich Mom and Joel Peterson’s The 10 Laws of Trust.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family by Kimberly Palmer
Jacket cover of Smart Mom Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer

Become your family’s Chief Financial Officer with the practical, smart advice from this book (with plenty of levity–the New York Times describes Palmer as “witty“). Kimberly Palmer, formerly the senior money editor of US News & World Report, helps every mom make choices that lead to financial security and a richer life. “It’s time for us moms to have as much targeted guidance on building wealth as we receive on dropping that so-called baby weight, reducing wrinkles, or saving $10 on our next bulk order of laundry detergent,” Palmer declares. Click here or on the cover image for your free sample chapter.


The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds that Make a Business Great by Joel Peterson with David A. KaplanJacket cover of The 10 Laws of Trust by Joel Peterson, AMACOM May 2016

Trust isn’t just a pleasant thing for an organization to have–it’s absolutely essential. “The cost of lacking trust: ever-present suspicion, double-riveted legal agreements, caution and caginess in interpersonal dealings—the touchstones of mistrust—can slow things down, drive away the most trustworthy people, and inhibit innovation,” explains Joel Peterson, chairman of JetBlue. Don’t let your organization go without it! Click here or on the cover image for your free sample chapter.

Now Available on NetGalley: SMART MOM, RICH MOM

Cover art for Smart Mom, Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer Women already have most of the nation’s purchasing power–so why doesn’t financial advice reflect it? In SMART MOM, RICH MOM: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family, Kimberly Palmer explores how women entering the dual career/parenting years can successfully manage their financial lives. Journalists, booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, and media professionals interested in personal finance and parenting are invited to request Smart Mom, Rich Mom for review.

Become your family’s Chief Financial Officer.

Of all life’s financial shocks, few compare to bringing home an infant. Just one tiny person costs $250,000 to raise— not including college!

How will you pay for it? That agonizing question fuels mothers’ choices about their careers, budgets, and families. Some lean in, some scale back or seek new opportunities—there are no easy answers . . . but lots of rewarding possibilities.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom explores how women today are navigating the financially challenging career/parenting years. Written by a national money columnist and mom of two, the book chronicles people who have stayed in the game—full-time, freelance, self-employed, and more—and emerged more prosperous and empowered.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom mines their experiences to uncover both career advice and spending and savings strategies that everyone can use. Stories, checklists, action steps, planning tools, and more explain how to:

• Prepare financially for parenthood—whether you’re expecting your first child or your third

• Balance thrift with generating income and investing wisely

• Find flexibility at work while safeguarding your earning potential

• Save for both college and retirement despite increased expenses

• Plan for unexpected events, like a layoff or illness

• And much more

Kids change our lives, adding joy but draining bank accounts. Smart Mom, Rich Mom helps you adopt healthy habits—and make hard decisions—that pay off in abundance.

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NetGalley is a service for people who read and recommend books, such as book reviewers, journalists, librarians, professors, booksellers, and bloggers.

There are a number of different reading options for this e-galley:

Find all of AMACOM’s e-galleys on NetGalley.

You can review how to get AMACOM’s digital galley request approval on NetGalley HERE.