What no one seems to be talking about: there are much less expensive alternatives out there.
- EpiPen. Contains 0.3 mg per dose. EpiPen Jr has a smaller 0.15 mg dose for younger children.
- Adrenaclick. Contains 0.3 mg per dose, and has a smaller 0.15 mg per dose pen for younger kids.
- Epinephrine. Authorized generic for Adrenaclick (check out this article for more information on what an authorized generic is). Also has both 0.3 mg and 0.15 mg dose pens.
Auvi-Q was recalled in the U.S. in 2015, so don’t use this.
Why would I need an EpiPen?
Because you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Anaphylaxis does NOT have to mean anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis has many different signs and symptoms. Here are some examples:
- 90% of people will have skin symptoms: hives, flushing (redness), swollen lips or tongue, and swelling around the eyes.
- 70% of folks having anaphylaxis will have breathing symptoms including runny nose or nasal congestion, change in voice, a sensation of throat closing or choking, shortness of breath, and wheezing or cough.
- 45% of those having anaphylaxis will have gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and crampy abdominal pain.
- 45% of people experiencing anaphylaxis will have the scarier cardiovascular symptoms including fainting or near-fainting, dizziness, fast heart rate, and low blood pressure.
Why do epinephrine pens help?
Simply put, epinephrine can reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis. It works by increasing blood pressure (it does this by causing the vessels to constrict) and decreasing swelling. Epinephrine also works to open up the airways.
Which pen should I use?
Just look at cost, and pick the one that is cheaper. The retail cash cost of the autoinjectors ranges from $450 to more than $700—but using a GoodRx discount, you could pay as little as $150 for generic epinephrine at some pharmacies.
If you have insurance, you could also pay a lot less using the generic. The epinephrine pen is covered as a Tier 1 generic under most plans, while EpiPen and Adrenaclick are more likely to be Tier 2 with a higher co-pay.
If you do switch though, keep in mind that the different pens work in slightly different ways. Plan ahead, and know how to use your autoinjector. You can find training videos on the Adrenaclick website here, and the epinephrine autoinjector website here.
What if I want to keep using EpiPen?
Mylan, the manufacturer of EpiPen is responding to complaints about the pricing by offering a few ways to keep your costs down. They currently offer a co-pay card that will let you save $100 off your out of pocket costs, and will soon be increasing the savings to $300 per fill.
Are there any other discounts out there?