You probably have heard stories or read articles on how out of control the EpiPens prices have become in the last few years. Since 2004, after adjusting for inflation, EpiPens’ price has risen by more than 400%. The article below explores why the price of EpiPens has risen and whether it is necessary to use it.
What is An EpiPen and Why Is It Expensive?
An EpiPen is a device that injects a drug, Epinephrine, into the body of someone who is experiencing an allergic reaction. It is a pen-like device containing a dose of Epinephrine and a spring-loaded needle that exits one side of the device for injection.
What makes this device so special is the ease at which it automatically administers the correct dosage quickly. It has well-written instructions on its side, which means almost anyone can use it. The device has been in use since 1977, and about nine years ago, it was bought by a pharmaceutical company known as Mylan.
At first, Mylan sold the device at about $57 each. The success of the device and lack of competition made Mylan start raising the price. Epinephrine is inherently unstable, and it is recommended that EpiPens be replaced every year, which again increased the demand, and Mylan raised the device price again. Competition would help lower the price, but it has been hard to bring such a device into the market in recent years. For example, in 2013, a similar product known as Auvi-Q was pulled off the market as it was found to give potentially improper dosage.
Are EpiPens Necessary?
Diphenhydramine can treat most allergic reactions. However, a small percentage of people with allergic reactions can develop anaphylaxis, which is when your airways swell and close, making it hard to breathe. The simple treatment of anaphylaxis is a dosage of Epinephrine, and to save a life, it must be delivered quickly and in the correct dosage. People caught by anaphylaxis cannot administer the dosage by themselves, and they require someone who is well-trained to do it. It is hard to find someone trained well enough to deliver the correct dosage in case of emergency, and with that, we have the EpiPen.
EpiPens Cost and Alternatives
The cost of an EpiPen may vary in different countries and also depends on a person’s health coverage. In 2020, the average U.S. retail price on a two-pack EpiPen, for a person without medical coverage, was $669.80. Thankfully, there are cheaper options for individuals who cannot afford an EpiPen or do not have sufficient medical range to cater for it, such as Adrenaclick. Even though it contains epinephrine, Adrenaclick is not a generic version of EpiPen, which can make it hard for pediatricians to substitute one over the other. Another option is using the app Good Rx, which finds generic and non-generic brands at lower costs. For example, through the app, it is possible to get EpiPen as low as $150 and Adrenaclick for a little over $100.
At Bard and Didriksen Pediatrics, we have the knowledge and financial resources to help you find the right EpiPen treatment options for you. If you have questions or concerns about EpiPens, or to learn more about our services, contact us today.
If you suspect that your child may have asthma, or for more information regarding childhood asthma, contact us today. We’ll diagnose your child’s symptoms and decide the best treatment options from there to get your child living life as normally as they can.