7 Epipen Cost-Saving Hacks
How to save money on Epipen!
$500 is not that much money to have your child or yourself from a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Except it kinda is.
Especially after you do a good job avoiding the trigger and never need to use your Epipen!
This article will give you my “best allergist secrets” to saving money on your next epinephrine prescription.
In case you didn’t know, Epipen is getting well deserved criticism for their price increases: 461% since 2007 and 15% per year for the past few years! This seemed to really become apparent when Auvi-Q, their recent competitor, stopped production.
You can read all about it here in my prior article!
Hopefully public pressure will push the company to lower prices OR help another company create a good alternative.
Until then, I these are my best 7 tips and tricks to save money on Epipen.
Before all my secret tricks, here are two standard tricks to save money try:
- Epipen.com coupon – First, Epipen does offer a coupon for their product.
- They claim $0 copay, but that’s not accurate. Instead, it is a $100 off coupon.
- You need to fill it out online and THEN bring it to pharmacy
- Pharmacy shopping – Second, did you know that prices vary by pharmacy?
- I didn’t at first. It seems like a product should be one price at any pharmacy, right? Wrong!
- There can be up to $100 difference between pharmacies!
- In general, Costco seems to be the best price and Walgreens seem to be the worst. Walmart, CVS/Target and supermarkets tend to be in between.
- It is WORTH IT to call around before you drop off your next prescription
NOTE: You DO NOT need a membership to use Costco pharmacy!
The next two secret tricks at the top of the list of Epipen alternatives.
- Adrenaclick – there is a good generic out there called Adrenaclick, with some prices as low as <$50 per injectable. As I pointed out in my prior article, the problem with Adrenaclick has always been access and substitutions
- Either have your provider specifically write for Adrenaclick or write that substitutions are allowed.
- Then CALL PHARMACIES FIRST and see if they carry Adrenaclick.
- For adults, you’re asking for NDC 52054-803-02
- For pediatrics, it’s NDC 52054-804-02
- Costco seems to be the best source for Adrenaclick
- Verify BEFORE you leave the counter. Don’t let the pharmacy substitute Epipen for Adrenaclick
- Epinephrine vial – this recommendation has me a little nervous. In general, we do not recommend getting a vial of epinephrine and a syringe. Why? If there is an allergic reaction and you need to draw your own medication, dosing errors can (and likely will) happen.
- I have only given 2 rx’s for this in my life, mainly out of dosing error fears.
- In my office, though, this is what we buy and we pre-draw doses and keep them in syringes. This is one possible alternative.
- A second option is to buy a dosing/syringe system, like this one. I have no experience with this, but a good friend sent it to me and it is definitely a consideration.
- Overall, I feel this is probably not the best option if ANY other option exists.
Super Secret Tricks
The standard and secret tricks are decent options and exactly what I would recommend as your next steps. These are also what many Epipen cost-saving articles are saying.
Now is my chance to give you my super secret tricks and Epipen cost-saving ideas that I haven’t seen published anywhere else yet.
- Share prescriptions – This trick was given to me by a patient about 2 years ago, and uses the fact that Epipen is sold in 2-packs. This particular patient would split the package with a friend/family member.
- It is easy to “share” the same Epipen if you have multiple family members who need epinephrine.
- But also consider “splitting” a prescription with a friend. That would give you an Epipen cost-saving of 50%!
- Although before you do this, you should know WHY we recommend having 2 Epipens:
- One reason we recommend 2 Epipens: If you’re having an allergic reaction you should give yourself epinephrine and call 911. If the reaction continues or worsens before EMS arrives, you give yourself a second dose.
- The other reason: One for home and one for school/daycare.
- Splitting a prescription would give you one cost-effective Epipen, but not two, so….
- Keep older prescriptions – A study from 2000 showed that Epipens 2-3 years old still had 90% of their dose remaining and those 5-7 years old had 70% left! So using last year’s Epipen would likely still be effective!
- There are problems with this plan:
- First, I cannot guarantee that your pen will have 90% or be effective. So there is risk that is associated with this plan.
- Second, schools will NOT accept older Epipens.
- Overall, I would medically recommend you have a current non-expired Epipen. But splitting the cost of a current dose (for school or for one pen) and keeping your older pen as the second dose is a consideration.
- There are problems with this plan:
Super Secret Squirrel Trick
All of my prior tricks are looking for ways to get Epipen through cost-saving hacks (and a few of these are definitely hacks). But take a step back and look at the main problem:
- Many insurances have a deductible you must reach first and as a result, you use more healthcare at the end of the year after you meet this deductible.
- The true problem with Epipen is that many schools require you to have a current prescription when your child starts, which is BEFORE you meet your deductible.
- My best secret: write a letter to your school to change the Epipen requirement from the start of school to the start of a new calendar year!
- This allows you to get a refill in December when your deductible is likely to be met
- It gives you access to current and cost-saving Epipen
So if I were to give you my best secret, it is to change the school requirement for Epipen to happen AFTER you met your deductible (at the start of the calendar year, not the start of the school year).
Now, this is not an easy task. But I have had quite a few exceptions to the rule made by providing the school with a letter of medical necessity discussing the cost of Epipen.
And if you want, you can get a copy of that letter
As an alternative, you can also ask your primary care provider to write a similar letter (using mine as a draft) and submit it to your school nurse and/or principal.
These are all my best tips that I’ve used for about 6 years to save money on Epipen. While there may be more social pressure against Epipen currently, there is no guarantee that it will change anything in the long run.
So share these plans with anyone you can and lets start fixing this problem with the small steps we CAN control.
I’ve already written the first two parts of the epipen discussion:
- How the Cost of Epipen affects Patient Care
- 7 Epipen Cost-Saving Hacks (this article)
Next, I’m going to do these two articles to give you a little more:
- The single BEST thing you should do with each epipen prescription (next Tuesday)
- An easy fix for Epipen’s company to immediately lower costs (next Thursday)