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How to Make Expensive EpiPens More Affordable

By HERWriter
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How to Make Expensive EpiPens Affordable Rob Byron/Fotolia

A two-pack of EpiPens from the pharmaceutical company Mylan cost less than $100 in 2009, but the price has gradually and dramatically risen since then, with a current list price of about $600. This has left people who depend on EpiPens in a terrible bind.

On Monday August 29, 2016, Mylan made an announcement that its U.S. subsidiary will be making another cheaper generic EpiPen product available.

The EpiPen Auto-Injector will have a list price that is less than half the price of the original branded EpiPen. A generic two-pack EpiPen carton will cost $300. It will come in 0.15 mg and 0.30 mg strengths. The launch is expected to take place within a few weeks.

Despite this greatly increased price, Mylan wants consumers to be aware that the company is intent on optimizing patients' access to epinephrine auto-injectors. Programs are for EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. auto-injectors.

1) In recognition of the issues facing patients who can't afford the recent price hikes, there will still be an augmented patient assistance program as well as a $300 My EpiPen Savings Card available for the brand product. The $300 savings card can be used as cash at a pharmacy. You can find it at www.activatethecard.com/epipen/ The card is available for a 2-pack of EpiPens to patients who are commercially insured.

2) When the $300 generic product becomes available, Mylan will then kick off a direct ship program. EpiPen can then be ordered directly from Mylan at a lower cost. Bring the My EpiPen Savings Card in with your prescription to the pharmacy, or have your doctor put your savings card ID number on your e-prescription.

3) Find out if your insurance will cover half the cost of the EpiPens. If they will, you can use that in addition to the card, and possibly pay nothing at the pharmacy reported Drugstore news. Don't hesitate to check up on the pharmacy and make sure that the coupons are actually applied.

4) Check into patient assistance programs that will provide medication for free or at low cost to people who can't pay for drugs. Most drug companies make these programs available.

Mylan has doubled eligibility for its patient assistance program. You qualify for Mylan's EpiPen patient assistance program if you are a legal U.S. citizen, without prescription insurance coverage, and if you make 400 percent or less of the federal poverty line..

5) Calling your insurance company and complaining may not make an immediate difference but added pressure from patients may make a noticeable difference in the long run.

6) Mylan also donates EpiPens via their EpiPen4Schools program. Make sure your school has this program you can get four free EpiPens with a storage unit, and your school will get free training guides.

"The difference between having one and not having one is life and death," Dr. Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet, MD was quoted as saying in an article on BuzzFeed. Eghrari-Sabet is a board-certified allergist at Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The high price makes them harder to buy, but people who need EpiPens still have to be able to get them. And other options are less than satisfactory.

Auvi-Q had a recall in 2015 for dosage inaccuracies. Adrenaclick can be hard to find, and isn't covered by most insurance.

Using a syringe and a bottle of epinephrine is not really safe for anyone who is not a trained medical professional, and the FDA has not approved going this route.

So that brings us back to EpiPens. Trying to find ways to make them affordable for you or a family member?

Here are some ideas and suggestions that may make a difference for you:

1) When you buy your EpiPens, look at the expiration date before you buy. You can get some that are good for 18 months to two years. If yours has an expiry date of less than a year, ask for their newest carton, or have the pharmacy order new ones.

“You can’t buy single EpiPens, it always comes as a pack with two auto-injectors because some people require a second dose within 15 to 30 minutes,” Eghrari-Sabet said.

2) Talk to your doctor. A doctor can tell you what you need to know about coupons, grants and price-assistance programs. That's where you'll get school forms that you need for the school nurse. Ask your doctor for any free EpiPen samples.

3) Advocacy groups like these listed have staff and volunteers available to all patients who will do things like spell out pricing, help you to understand your insurance plan, and how your deductible works. They can help you search out a cost-assistance program.

the Allergy and Asthma Network

the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America

the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)

Human resources through your work may also be able to assist with the cost of EpiPens.

Consider lobbying for benefits under your company's health care plan for EpiPens, so that in the future helpful changes might take place.

Reviewed August 31, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Mylan Increases Price of EpiPen by More Than 400 Percent. Empowher.com. Retrieved August 31, 2016.

Mylan launches first generic EpiPen Auto-Injector. Drugstorenews.com. Retrieved August 31, 2016.

Mylan takes steps to reduce patients costs for EpiPen, increase access. Drugstorenews.com. Retrieved August 31, 2016.

13 Tips For Anyone Who Can’t Afford EpiPens Anymore. Buzzfeed.com.  Retrieved August 31, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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