Angry at getting the Generic Epipen Runaround?
Getting generic epipen is still very difficult!
Add to this the continuing nonsense with Mylan’s epipen cost… well, this is a slightly different and more personal type of post about my frustration with epinephrine pens. But I did give the post a pretty happy ending and some great patient success stories!
Anyone Still Angry at Epipen?
It was just a short time ago that the high epipen cost and their 550% cost increase since Mylan acquired the epinephrine pen’s rights in 2007 was making headlines. The public was briefly able to understand the frustration of myself as well as all my food allergy/anaphylaxis patients.
About a week or so ago, the epipen cost scandal made its way to congress as the Mylan CEO Heather Bresch was grilled by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (below is a 2:33 min clip after about a million minutes of youtube ads):
Personally, I was pretty happy and although it was likely just a public display of disapproval, I had hoped that this might be the start of helping my patients get either a lower cost epipen, a generic epipen or both (of course, it is the government so this change wouldn’t go into effect for about 20-50 years, but still I was happy).
The Shrinking Attention Span of Media
Unfortunately, it seemed that all the click-bait titles and internet traffic was used up and the media moved on. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got divorced which was the newest breaking news in the 24hour constant news cycle, followed by the multiple shootings (which, I admit, deserve significant news attention).
But the epipen cost problem was forgotten. I wish they had added the word “-gate” at the end, because that seems to make any scandal last longer in the news.
But they didn’t. And as a result, when it was recently found that Mylan’s Epipen pretax profit was 60% higher than the number the CEO told congress nobody was reporting it! I read it in the Wall Street Journal and, surprisingly, nowhere else.
Mylan’s Public Relations Move – Generic Epipen Cost Reduction
One of the outcomes of this was that Epipen’s CEO announced that the company was immediately producing the exact same product as a generic epipen that would cost 50% less. This is definitively a nice PR move, but I think it goes to show how much of a markup epipen’s cost really is!
Plus, $300 for a medication that you hope to never use is still expensive!
At this point, I figured that I would just continue to fight for my patients, try to get them Mylan’s generic epipen, but that it would be business as usual (which is NOT what I wanted to tell all my food allergic kids or patients with anaphylaxis.)
The First Bit of Hope – Generic Epipen Success!
Previously I had written articles about how to get a true generic epipen, Adrenaclick, as well as other epinephrine pens as a way to help my readers save money. It’s a good option, but difficult to accomplish. Then I came across this story:
Victory is mine!
My quest for an emergency dose of epinephrine to have on hand that does not cost an arm and a leg (or support the ridiculous salary of a pharmaceutical CEO) was a success.
I asked my physician to prescribe a “generic epinephrine auto-injector”.
It took CVS two tries to get what I wanted. They first filled the script with an Epi-pen to the tune of $616. We have a high deductible plan that does not kick in at that level and we have been healthy and injury free this year. This is full price. Even after the coupon that is now available from the manufacturer, I would be out a minimum of $300 for something that costs less to make than a Big Mac.
I refused the purchase and explained that I specifically requested the generic. They told me there was no such thing. After a brisk conversation and some time spent hunched over their computer, the pharmacy staff told me they were sorry and that they had found it in their system but did not have any on hand. They would have it for me in a few days.
Today I picked it up. My new friend behind the counter recognized me and said that they had ordered extras to have on hand for other customers after seeing that there was an option. My new script fell into the generic price category which, with the coverage we have, ran me a whopping $5. Not bad for a day’s work.
Just as I had suggested in my prior article, this person fought with the pharmacy and eventually got the correct generic epinephrine pen for $5! I love the story because it shows the frustration that most of you will likely encounter if you request generic epipen, but it also shows that perseverance pays off!
To help you with your quest, I have pasted the list of my recent epipen cost saving posts below:
- How the Cost of Epipen affects Your Patient Care
- 7 Epipen Cost-Saving Hacks
- The One Epipen Trick your Pharmacist Doesn’t Want You to Know
More Good News – Epipen Cost-Saving School Note!
About a week ago, I got a private message that made me feel very happy and, honestly, has renewed my hope for my patients.
I had written a based on what I have used in the past to try and ask local schools to change how they approach their epipen requirement. The letter is a template that asks the schools:
- To change their annual epinephrine pen expiration requirement to be at the end of the calendar year instead of the start of the school year, allowing patients to get their epinephrine pen when their deductible has been met.
- To ask that children only need 1 epinephrine pen at school instead of 2.
(Note: where I live schools require kids to bring 2 epinephrine pens, labeled with their name, and not expiring during the academic year. This requires parents to get a prescription in June/July and not later in the year when their deductible has been met).
This was the message I got:
THANK YOU Dr. Webber!
I figured I’d try your note because it couldn’t hurt and after a week of talking with the school nurse and principal they allowed me to get my epipen refill later in the year! This has saved us about $500! Thank you thank you thank you!
Maria S, Pueblo CO
This has helped restore my faith in local schools doing the right thing for their students!
For those who are interested, you canhere:
Generic Epipen, Epinephrine Pen Alternatives and You
I really think the next steps are left to us: allergists looking out for your best interest and active patients who are willing to fight for what’s best for your kids/yourself.
If you have any success stories in finding generic epipens or alternative epinephrine pens PLEASE share them here, in a comment below or on my Facebook page. It will help me continue to fight for you and help encourage other parents and people who are struggling against the rising epipen costs!