The One Epipen Trick your Pharmacist Doesn’t Want You to Know

This is one epipen trick you need to know for epipen cost-savings
Read this One Epipen Trick BEFORE your Next Prescription

Don’t fill your next epipen without reading this first

There has been a lot of recent media coverage about the rising cost of Epipen.  Most of it has been focused on inspiring outrage at Epipen’s cost and some of it has been more politically slanted.  I am grateful that the media has helped identify and share the epipen cost-problem that most of you have already known about (you can read my overview here).

But where are the solutions?

In my prior article I shared my 7 best tips for epipen cost-savings based on my years of finding solutions for my patients.  It was a good article and I do suggest you read it if you haven’t already.

But I have another tip today that is potentially HUGE for cost-saving!

The Expiration Date Problem

One of the biggest issues with Epipen is that they have an expiration date.

The benefit of Epipen’s expiration date:  You know when the medicine is guaranteed to be at full strength.

The problem of Epipen’s expiration date:  You are required to fill it once a year and have it not expire during the school year by most school regulations (even though an expired pen still has decent potency).

When you factor in Epipen’s cost, it becomes VERY important to make sure you are getting the full year from your prescription.

 

The One-Epipen Trick You NEED to Know

Although this isn’t necessarily an Epipen cost-saving trick, it is an Epipen cost-wasting one if you don’t follow it:

Make sure your Epipen actually expires one year from the month you get your prescription!

 

I have had many patients who went and got a new prescription for Epipen and then got home and saw that the expiration date was only 9 or 10 months later!

 

The Epipen is still the same cost, but you’re getting less than a year out of it before you need a refill!

 

Check your epipen's expiration date for cost savings
The solution is simple – check your epipen’s expiration date.

But you can’t do this at home and then return the epipen afterwards.  In fact, you cannot walk away from the counter or else you cannot return the epipen!

That means that when you get your Epipen prescription and it is in a bag, you need to open it while still standing at the pharmacy counter and ensure that the Epipen’s expiration date is one year from purchase!

Read that again:  you must check your Epipen’s expiration date BEFORE you leave the pharmacy counter!

Why Isn’t This Automatically Done?

I don’t know the answer to this.  I’m not sure if this happens by mistake or if there are pharmacists who have a cost-incentive to give you their supply of Epipen instead of getting you a more current one.

If anyone knows a good pharmacist, please share this post and ask them.  I’ll update this post with their answer.

My opinion is that there are probably a few pharmacists who will give you their supply regardless of expiration date, but most of the time it is a just a simple mistake.  A simple but costly mistake.

So next time you pick up an Epipen prescription, make sure the expiration date is one year from when you are getting the prescription!

  • It’s written on the pens as well as on the box
  • If you have any questions, just ask your pharmacist

 

Question for You

I have one question for you today:  have you ever gotten an Epipen with less than a year left until expiration?  If so, please share your story below or on our Facebook page.  The more people realize how common this is, the more we can help everyone with an Epipen prescription not fall victim to this problem.

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  • The expiration date on my epipens (2) is March 2018 from my prescription filled on 8/29/2017 – ONLY 6 MOTHS.

    • Julia,

      I’m sorry to hear that the epipen prescription is only 6 months! That’s so frustrating! There are a couple options that you can try to fix it:
      – First, you could try to email the epipen website and ask if they would exchange it for you (unlikely, but possible)
      – Or you could ask your provider to send you a prescription for Auvi-Q. That is the new epinephrine injectable that is $0 out of pocket for most people for calendar year 2017. Get it later in the year and it should last for a full calendar year.

      Those are my best two guesses. Sorry I don’t have better ideas for you, but if I hear of any or can think of more I’ll let you know.

      Respectfully,
      Chris Webber

  • Pharmacist says:

    Pharmacies pull expired meds for send back 3 months in advance for partial credit. We have little power against being sent short dated products. We mark with colored price dots, like garage sales, what month that year each item expires so we can pull quickly or even use them first, if within date of use. If a pharmacy goes through a surge of orders for Epi pens then afterwards the computer will automatically replenish and they may or may not sit for a period of months. We stock and rotate like any other retail item, however, we understand there is a difference. Epi pen isn’t the only manufacturer that won’t lower their costs, produce generics readily, and who completely monopolize a niche in drugs. We have barely any profit margin on brand name. I would give a patient my newest box or order a new box if I noticed poor dating rendering it useless for school, even if you went home. It could be dumped in the expired box until it’s 3 month death approaches. I would never intentionally give someone a short dated box to make a sale. I get paid the same either way. We use copay cards to try to be the nice middle man between Epi Pen and consumers. I go out of my way to get money from anyone but my customer by copay cards, day supply tricks, cutting tablets, changing dosage forms, finding insurance formulary covered meds in that class, even OTCs etc. I prefer to make any sale money from insurance and I honestly cringe when I can’t find a mechanism to make it affordable.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I rarely fault the pharmacy or pharmacist. Often you are in a very tough spot. I thank you for all you do for your customers and for your approach to try and help all your patients and their kids with a good epinephrine supply.

  • Average Serf says:

    I asked my doctor to ensure the pharmacy has pens that expire 12 months out, and she stated that they are getting many calls that new practice in pharmacy is 3 months.

    Over $1700 a month Anthem BCBS receives to cover my family of 3 humans and this is the best they can do?

    Our system here in the USA is completely laughable – we need guillotines, lots of them before any of these greedy (insert expletive of your choice) will change their ways.

    • First, the US medical system is the reason I drink at night (not really… well, kinda not really).

      Second, NO! An epinephrine pen should last a year. A pharmacy may give you one that is expiring in less than a year. You SHOULD NOT accept it. As soon as you accept the medicine, its yours. But before you leave the medicine counter, check the date. If it expires is less than a year, ask for one that is a year out. If they don’t have it, ask them to order it!

      OR, if you want, ask your provider to send a prescription for Audi-q. It needs to be sent to their special mail-in pharmacy… but their pharmacy calls you within 24 hours, ships the pen within 2-3 days, AND it is $0 out of pocket for most people.

      And spread the word as much as you can. It pisses me off when pharmacies give short-lived epipens.

      Now… where’s my beer?

  • Melissa Schnurrenberger says:

    I have yet to receive an epi-pen with an expiration date of more than nine months. I’ve called the pharmacist numerous times and explained that our son’s school requests two of them and the one’s they give me do not even last throughout the school year. I never get a straight answer than that’s all they have on their shelves.
    In the past few weeks, I can’t even find an epi-pen. I called Walgreens, CVS and Publix and NO ONE had any, not even the generic one. They anticipate a month out from now by the time they get them in (near the new school year). Now it’s not even a cost-factor, but a fear of not getting one. One pharmacist told me a parent told them they are scared to take their child out of the house because of the shortage of epi-pens. Anyway, I ended up calling my son’s Allergist and asked them to mail order a supply through our insurance of Auvi-Q. The manufacturer called me a few days later and gave me a date that we should receive them. I’m so grateful to them.

    • Melissa,

      I love the ending of this story (and feel for you with the beginning). The epinephrine world is a mess right now… kinda. Epipen is still expensive, is in shortages, and has inconsistent expiration dates.

      BUT Auvi-Q has been doing a GREAT job. They have been responsive, have good stock, and get it to you within a few days. What’s even better: for most insurances, it is $0 out of pocket!

      The only problem is many providers don’t know how to order them (or don’t think about it). As a parent/patient, you need to be proactive and request Auvi-Q. The way to get it is easy: if the doctor has an electronic medical record, they just need to send a mail-order rx to the ASPN pharmacy and Auvi-q does the rest. Or fax in a rx. It is that easy.

      I’m so happy for you. But now, you have a new responsibility: tell as many parents and people you can about auvi-q so they are also well informed!

      Note: I know this sounds like a commercial. Hell, it would probably make a great commercial. But in this case, my passion is getting the best medicine to the patient at the best cost… and Auvi-Q has met every single one of these criteria and have done it consistently. I just can’t reach everybody to tell them by myself.

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