Back in the day, EpiPens used to cost just under $100 out-of-pocket. Now, the price is well over $600. If you don’t have insurance, that cost is prohibitive. In fact, even those with insurance may struggle (especially those with a high-deductible plan), making alternatives to EpiPens a more affordable and appealing option.
While many patients are curious about the expensive price hike, the more important question is, “how do I afford this?”
This week, discover some EpiPen alternatives, as well as additional saving strategies.
Top EpiPen Alternatives
Mylan’s Generic EpiPen
EpiPen manufacturer Mylan has released its own authorized generic, priced at $150-$300 out-of-pocket. However, this is still expensive for many people, especially families that need multiple auto-injectors.
Mylan offers savings programs for both the branded EpiPen and the generic version, but they are only available to commercially insured patients.
Impax manufacturers Adrenaclick and the out-of-pocket price runs from $300-$500. However, there is also a generic version of Adrenaclick that is available for as low as $109.99 at CVS. Keep in mind that this $109.99 price is for patients paying out-of-pocket, which means you shouldn’t make the purchase through your insurance to get this price. Always check your insurance coverage to see if it provides a lower co-pay. You can also find additional savings with a manufacturer coupon from Impax.
Auvi-Q is another brand of epinephrine auto-injector. The out-of-pocket cost for Auvi-Q is prohibitive at about $5,000 for a two-pack. Luckily, there are coupons and assistance programs available from the manufacturer, kalèo.
Patients who do not have government or commercial insurance and have a yearly household income of under $100,000 may be eligible for kalèo’s patient assistance program (view the application here). Through this program, you’ll receive Auvi-Q for free.
Eligible patients with commercial insurance can also receive Auvi-Q at no cost (see the terms and conditions on the manufacturer website).
Generic drug manufacturer Teva released its own generic version of EpiPens, but the cost is the same as the Mylan authorized generic. Teva does offer a $30 co-pay savings card for commercially insured patients.
Symjepi is a newer brand that was just released in July 2019. Unlike most other brands, this is not an auto-injector; it’s a prefilled epinephrine syringe. It costs $250 out-of-pocket for a two-pack.
If you want Symjepi, make sure your doctor either writes you a prescription for that brand, or writes you a prescription for generic epinephrine/epinephrine injection, not an auto-injector. This solution may not be right for everyone, since auto-injectors are easier to use for most patients or bystanders who are trying to help someone experiencing anaphylaxis.
Still Struggling to Afford Life-Saving Epinephrine?
Despite the alternatives listed above, you may still be struggling to afford your medication. Here are some additional strategies to use:
Ask Your Doctor or Allergist for Samples
Pharmaceutical companies sometimes give free samples of their medication to doctors. Therefore, it’s worth asking your Primary Care Provider (PCP) if they have any samples of epinephrine. If they don’t have one available, explain your financial situation and see if they can get in touch with a pharmaceutical representative to ask for a sample for you.
Download a Prescription Discount Card
There are many prescription discount cards available for free on the internet. These savings cards offer discounts on the out-of-pocket (cash) price of medication. In some cases, the discount can even be better than your insurance co-pay. It’s definitely worth downloading a card and checking the discounts periodically. Some of these websites also offer an app for a more convenient way to check savings.
Compare Pricing Between Pharmacies
If you can’t afford an epinephrine injector/auto-injector from your preferred pharmacy, try shopping around to see if another pharmacy will give you a better price.
Apply for a Patient Assistance Program
In addition to the manufacturer assistance programs mentioned above, there are programs offered by nonprofit organizations or the government that could help you pay for your epinephrine. RxAssist.org has a directory of assistance programs that lets you search by drug name or company name.
If Your Insurance Doesn’t Cover Epinephrine, Submit an Appeal
If your insurance refuses to cover epinephrine, or doesn’t cover enough of the cost, you can submit an appeal to your insurance company. Here are some tips for filing an appeal from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Be sure to ask your doctor to help prove you have a medical necessity for epinephrine. Also, consider getting help from a social worker or another professional with experience in patient advocacy.
Affording epinephrine is a necessity for anyone with allergies. The consequences of going without could be deadly. Hopefully with the release of more alternatives to EpiPen, competition will drive down the high prices. Until that happens, use these strategies to get the live-saving medicine you need.
Jeremy Lee, PharmD, BCPS, currently serves as the Director of Drug Information for America’s Pharmacy, a prescription discount program that helps consumers save up to 80% on prescription medications in pharmacies across the United States. Jeremy graduated from UCLA with a degree in biology and went on to receive his PharmD from the University of California, San Francisco. He has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.