For a large portion of Americans, a simple bee sting or a peanut can cause a fatal allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Fortunately, in most cases, these symptoms can be treated by a shot to the leg with an epinephrine auto-injector. Unfortunately, one of the most popular autoinjectors EpiPen costs around $630 and it’s generic version epinephrine costs around $320 for a pack of two autoinjectors, making them unaffordable for many people in need. But there are other alternatives. GoodRx is here to help explain them.
First off, why EpiPen is so expensive?
You may remember the EpiPen pricing controversy from about a year back, but here’s a refresher.
In August 2016 many patients ordering an EpiPen or EpiPen Jr, the autoinjector for children weighing 33 to 66 pounds, experienced sticker shock at the pharmacy. Those paying cash for EpiPen were hit with a bill for a whopping $600 or more for a pack of two auto-injectors. It soon came out that Mylan had increased prices for EpiPen and EpiPen Jr by 400% from 2011 to 2016.
Why was Mylan able to do this? Because they had the market all to themselves. The main competing autoinjector was discontinued in 2012, leaving EpiPen the only autoinjector available to treat anaphylaxis. With competitors out of the game, Mylan was free to gradually raise the cost of EpiPen more than four-fold without decreasing the demand.
When news broke of the large price hike, the outcry was loud. Top news outlets picked up the story, and Mylan was eventually hit with some lawsuits—sparking a nationwide discussion about drug prices. Mylan attempted to ease the public outcry by releasing an authorized generic version of EpiPen—epinephrine. The outrage, it appeared, had worked, and manufacturers were starting to listen and respond. Or so it seemed.
How much does generic Epipen cost?
Unfortunately, prices are still sky high. Cash prices for a pack of two epinephrine auto-injectors currently average around $377. While this is about 50% off brand name EpiPen, it is still not affordable for many Americans. So how can you save?
Are there any cheaper medications I can try?
We have good news! You have three other choices for epinephrine pens in addition to EpiPen and its generic.
- Adrenaclick (epinephrine). There are a lot of benefits to using Adrenaclick and its generic version. Like EpiPen, Adrenaclick is a pen-shaped autoinjector designed to be easy to use. The main difference? Adrenaclick is affordable. The generic is available for around $100 at CVS and has a manufacturer savings program that can reduce your co-pay to as little as $0 per fill. You can read more about this program here.
- Auvi-Q. During the EpiPen pricing controversy, manufacturer Kaleo made it their mission to develop an affordable autoinjector and released Auvi-Q. The average cash price for Auvi-Q is expensive, but the manufacturer has made it easy for many patients to access it for free through the Auvi-Q Affordability program. You can read more about this program here.
- Symjepi. This one was approved by the FDA in June 2017 and isn’t on the market yet. We also aren’t sure how much it is going to cost, although it is intended to be less expensive than EpiPen. For more information about this approval, read our previous post here.
Is there a reason I should use the brand version of EpiPen?
Not really. All of the autoinjectors work equally well. While it’s might be best to find the most affordable one for you, you should always defer to your doctor.
Generic Epipen still works best for me—can I still save?
- Save with a manufacturer coupon or patient assistance program. Manufacturer Mylan offers a manufacturer program, though it only offers $25 each fill for insured patients. That isn’t much for a $300 medication. You can read more about this program here.
- Use a GoodRx coupon for Epinephrine. GoodRx offers discounts for epinephrine online, which can usually save at least $15 off the full retail price.
- Try to appeal your coverage. If you have insurance and your plan doesn’t cover epinephrine, EpiPen or EpiPen Jr, ask your doctor about submitting an appeal. Some plans require authorizations—meaning you need permission from your insurance plan and a special request from your doctor before you can fill your prescription. If you have insurance, call your provider and ask how to get this process started.
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