If you’re an EpiPen-carrying allergy sufferer like I am – or you have family members or friends who fall into that camp – you’re probably already aware of the recent surge (and by “surge,” I mean astronomical, shameful price hiking) implemented by EpiPen manufacturer Mylan. It was one of those insult to injury moments for those of us who already gulped hard at the pharmacy each time we paid far north of $100 out of pocket for our EpiPens. That was hardly a drop in the bucket, but the exorbitant jump that sent the retail price of the two-pack epinephrine auto-injectors to roughly $600 has been too much to stomach, especially for those without insurance or with high deductibles that require out-of-pocket payment for the drug.
Not surprisingly, news surrounding the price surge spread like wildfire, fueling anger, contempt and fear that those who need the lifesaving epinephrine injector would no longer be able to afford it. Their concerns, as well as my own, were based on fact, not hysteria. The inexplicable price jump (which Mylan conveniently blamed on Obamacare) wouldn’t just put a dent in the family budget – it would obliterate it. Six hundred dollars is more than some mortgage payments and in many cases, paying for an EpiPen could make it difficult, if not impossible, to pay for other family necessities, such as groceries, utilities and other required medications. Families with just one allergy sufferer will undoubtedly feel the pinch, but those unfortunate enough to have more than one family member in need of epinephrine would likely go into…well, outright shock. Further adding to the anger and dismay: While EpiPen’s price jumped by 400% over the past several years, Mylan CEO’s pay rose by more than 670% in just eight years.
Although Mylan has responded to the harsh media reports and finger-wagging politicians by offering discounts on EpiPen for selected customers and, as of August 29, a half-price generic version of its name-brand pens, most agree the company’s move to soothe customers’ angst and anger is a day late and far more than a dollar short – especially because of the overwhelming consensus that there’s little justification for the price increase in the first place.
Try a different brand
So what do we do? Well, I for one, am saying “good riddance” to Mylan and my reliance on EpiPen, even with the company’s latest $300 generic two-pack pen offering. More importantly, I won’t be jeopardizing my health by kicking Mylan to the curb.
After contacting my insurance provider and pharmacist, I learned I can switch to a different automated epinephrine injector called Adrenaclick. I was informed that once I have my prescription in hand, I’ll need to preorder the product, which may take two to three days to arrive at my pharmacy, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me. Although I am fortunate to have an insurance plan that covers a large portion of my prescription, Adrenaclick could be an especially great option for those who must pay fully out of pocket. I learned that two-pack Adrenaclick would cost out-of-pocket customers about $190 at Walgreens, with the manufacturer’s coupon. Those who fill their prescriptions at Walmart may pay only slightly more than $144. Check out discounts and print your coupon voucher at http://www.goodrx.com/adrenaclick?drug-name=adrenaclick.
Note: Be sure to contact your insurance provider and pharmacist to confirm availability of Adrenaclick, and also that you will save money by switching from EpiPen to Adrenaclick.
Don’t sacrifice safety
It’s worth noting that some weary EpiPen customers are now considering making the switch to basic syringes and a bottle of epinephrine, and dosing the product themselves. Although such an approach would cost far less than auto injectors, doctors warn against the practice. Their concern is that manually drawing epinephrine into a syringe and then self injecting the medication could lead to mistakes and incorrect dosing, which could prove deadly in untrained hands. At least one pharmaceutical company is working on a pre-filled syringe system to allow for safer, accurate epinephrine self injections, but that product won’t hit the market before 2017.
While we’re on the subject of safety, you may also want to rethink the decision to order prescriptions online from abroad. A number of U.S.-based customers are looking to Canada to fill their prescriptions, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims only 3% of online pharmacies are safe and legal – and the World Health Organization has found that 50% of medications sold online are counterfeit. Also, according to pharmacycheckerblog.com, if a pharmacy claims to be Canadian, that’s often the tipoff that it’s not legit. If that’s not enough reason to have prescriptions filled in your home country, there’s this: even if an online pharmacy is legit, U.S. citizens can’t legally import prescription drugs from other countries (yep, that also applies to our neighbor to the North).
Last, but not least, it’s a great idea to have a personalized allergy first-aid kit at the ready — one that not only includes whichever lifesaving epinephrine you happen to choose, but also a handful of other beneficial medications and items to help ease irritating and potentially life-threatening symptoms. Click here to read what to include and start building your own kit!