School is about to start again, and many students need their epinephrine autoinjector refilled. But patients have been telling me about their shock when they tried to pick up their prescription and were told the EpiPen price is between $300-$700, depending on their insurance. Even with a manufacturer coupon, this is still unaffordable for many patients.
Epinephrine, the drug dispensed from the EpiPen, is the one life-saving medication for many patients who suffer food allergies. Having an EpiPen or not can be a matter of life or death. Despite the high EpiPen price, epinephrine itself is a very cheap drug; it’s the device which costs so much. The manufacturers claim that ensuring that the pen reliably dispenses the same dose each time is what makes the autoinjector expensive.
Last year, one competing product (auviQ) was taken off the market for that particular reason–it did not reliably dispense the correct dose. It seems, however, that taking this product off the market reduced the competition, which may have started the price hike.
So what options do patient with food allergies or bee sting allergies have? Don’t get the injector refilled, and risk being without medication in case of anaphylaxis? Or get a generic autoinjector? That may save them some money–not much–and they have to learn a new technique, since every device has different instructions.
After a lot of protest about the EpiPen price, Mylan (the manufacturer of the EpiPen) just agreed to increase the manufacturer coupon from $100 to $300. However, the current savings card cannot be used by those who are uninsured or who use government-funded insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid.
We need to reach out to our state representatives to help those who need this life-saving treatment.
If you are a patient diagnosed with food allergies but not sure if you are truly allergic, this may be your time to finally get that food challenge done at the allergists office to see if you are truly allergic and need the EpiPen.