A generic auto-injector filled with epinephrine is promised to be just weeks away. That’s according to the drug company Mylan that makes EpiPens.
Mylan has fallen under intense criticism for a steep price hike over the past nine years.
The generic Epicene would cost $300 for a pair and that relief can’t come soon enough for families in Kansas City.
KCK sisters 4-year-old Catherine Brown and 2-year-old Hannah Brown require a special diet because of their allergies to nuts. That’s why mom Emily Brown has EpiPens.
“It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity,” said Brown.
Brown runs the Food Equity Initiative in Johnson and Jackson County. It’s a food bank specifically designed for people with food allergies.
She has met families who simply cannot fill their prescriptions, even those whose children would be at risk for an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
"No family should have to make that choice to put their child's life at risk,” said Brown.
Brown has never had to use the auto-injector, but if she did it likely would stop a severe allergic reaction.
Right now parents pay at least $600 for a pair of EpiPens. Back in 2007 one pen cost just $100. That’s about a 400 percent increase.
“This flows directly to the patient to families in our case. It could potentially put them in the situation to decide… with the money we have, are we going to get one of these pens or two?,” said Steve Lauer, Associate Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Hospital. “Doubling, quadrupling the price like this really has an impact on family's ability to get this medicine.”
Lauer has seen a few alternatives people in Kansas City use who can’t afford EpiPens or for those who have high deductibles.
Some people are buying Epinephrine and a syringe separately. That only costs about $10, which seems like an obvious choice. But, you have to make sure you are using the right dose in an emergency situation.
Others are buying from Canada where EpiPens are about $100-$150.
Out of country pharmacies like Canada Drug are another option. One local Canada Drug had this pricing on 9/13/16:
- One EpiPen Junior: $209.49
- Two EpiPen Juniors: $255.48
- One Adult EpiPen: $201.45
- Two Adult EpiPens: $286
If you notice, those prices are still lower than a pair of the generic EpiPens that are yet to be released.
It’s important to remember these expenses are not one and done costs. The EpiPen expires every 18 months according to Lauer, so it can add up to a small fortune.
Mylan does not guarantee the EpiPen’s effectiveness past the expiration date.
41 Action News has reached out to Mylan to ask the date its generic auto-injector would be released, but the company never responded.
Mylan is the only maker of the EpiPen, however there are other auto-injectors for epinephrine on the market. One of those is called epinephrine injection, USP auto-injector. Another is Adrenaclick.
Brown said in some instances those may be cheaper than the EpiPen, though it is likely dependent on your insurance.
Belinda Post can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.