Don’t Buy Your Next EpiPen Until You Read My Story

Save $550 on Your Next Epinephrine Auto-Injector

If you have a child with allergies or know someone who does, you need to read this article!

My 9-year-old son’s allergy to peanuts

He was around 18 months old when I first discovered he had a potentially life-threatening allergy, forcing our family to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times.

It was only by chance and luck that I discovered his allergy.  It was an ordinary night several years ago while my wife and I were preparing dinner together. My son came to my side, wanting to be picked up. He was only wearing a diaper, because isn’t that how most toddlers like to spend their early years? I set aside the peanuts I was chopping and picked him up. Within a couple of minutes, my son started aggressively scratching his leg. I checked to see what he was scratching at and noticed large patchy red hives on his leg where my hand had been. Lucky for me, my son had not eaten the peanuts and simply was having a contact skin reaction.

I am a Registered Nurse

Working as an RN in a busy Pediatric Emergency Room, I frequently treat anaphylaxis. So my brain went to work. I know that 40% of all children have allergies and that peanuts are the most common allergy followed by milk and shellfish. We were cooking with peanuts, bingo my son is allergic to peanuts. I couldn’t believe it, our otherwise healthy son, with 2 parents that have no allergies, is allergic to peanuts. WTF?

Dumbfounded, my wife and I stared at each other. She made an appointment with an allergist and a couple of weeks later, allergy testing confirmed our suspicion. After skin testing, we learned my son was not only allergic to peanuts but pineapple as well. We left the doctor with a prescription for an EpiPen®, which we have religiously filled for the last seven years, until this year.

This past week, the school nurse called to tell me that the EpiPen my son keeps in the nurse’s office was about to expire and needed to be replaced. Per the school district policy, my son must keep an epinephrine auto-injector in the nurse’s office or he can not be on school grounds.

I started performing my due diligence, calling around to local pharmacies. I called my hospital pharmacy, where I’m employed, and Costco pharmacy. In the past, I’ve found these two pharmacies offer the best price on our family’s prescriptions. What I found was alarming.

Due to my high deductible health insurance plan, I pay for most prescriptions out-of-pocket until I reach my high deductible, which by the way is $3,000. Yikes! But by using the high deductible plan, I have access to the wonderful benefit of an HSA (health savings account). Click here to learn why the HSA has a secret superpower.


save money on EpiPen

Costco and my hospital pharmacy quoted me $600 for the brand name Epi-Pen (two pack) and $300 for a generic version of EPI-Pen also manufactured by Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

A tip from the school nurse

The school nurse, however, gave me the greatest tip ever. There was a new allergy pen on the market. It was a fraction of the cost at $110 dollars, plus there was a coupon for $50 off that can be easily found on the internet. Read to the end of the article for the link to the coupon.

The savings were astounding, $250 savings from the generic EpiPen and a whopping $550 saving from the brand name. The only pharmacy in my area that carried the $50 epinephrine auto-injector was CVS pharmacy. 

So why does an Epi-Pen cost $600? The answer is buried somewhere in politics, the Food and Drug Administration and because Mylan Pharmaceuticals can get away with it.

It was around 2014 when I first felt the true cost of the Epi-Pen. That was when I switched to the high deductible health insurance plan. Prior to that time, I paid only the $20 prescription co-pay.  I had no idea of the true cost of the medicine.

The Epi-Pen has steadily increased in cost from $100 in 2009 to $600 in 2018. Meanwhile, the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Heather Bresch,  has seen a 671% pay increase in the same time period.

Epi Pen prices aren’t the only thing to jump at MylanExecutive salaries have also seen a stratospheric uptick. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch’s total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase.-NBCNews, Aug 2016.

After media scrutiny in 2017, Mylan Pharmaceuticals issued a coupon for $300 off of the EpiPen and now sells a generic version of their brand name EpiPen for $300. Still, in my honest opinion, this is far too expensive for the $5 worth of epinephrine inside the EpiPen. Thankfully, there is a new alternative.

The lower cost Epinephrine Auto-injector, manufactured by Impax Laboratories,  is a generic version of Adrenaclick®. The only retail location I could find the device was at CVS Pharmacy where retails for $109.99

click here to get your $50 off coupon.

It took my son’s doctor office 2 times to get the prescription right. After a phone call to the pharmacy, I learned the prescription the doctor had written, was for the generic EpiPen($300).  It took a phone call to the doctor’s office to make it clear I was after the cheaper alternative. The prescription must say “epinephrine auto-injector” for the pharmacy to be allowed to dispense the cheaper alternative.

3 Epinephrine Auto-Injector choices

  • EpiPen (brand name) – $600
  • EpiPen (generic) – $300
  • Generic for Adrenaclick – $109.99 ($59.99 with online coupon)

With a bit of time and some legwork, I was able to save $250. These small financial wins in our life can add up to some serious money.

Now the school nurse is happy, my son was able to stay in school, and I saved some money. So next time you or someone you know needs to buy an epinephrine auto-injector, pass along this helpful advice.

Please do me a favor and share this story on your Facebook or other social media accounts. Let’s let others know there are cheaper alternatives to the $600 EpiPen.

I hope you found this article helpful. Were you able to save money on your EpiPen? Please share your story in the comments section.


2 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Your Next EpiPen Until You Read My Story

  1. Thanks for sharing this information. We also have a child with severe allergies who needs EpiPens for school and home. The expiration dates are never all that long, so we regularly need to replace them. As you note, this is very costly! We’ll look into this with our doctor and see if we can get the generic prescription filled!

  2. I haven’t seen this in my area ever as a pharmacist. I’m pretty sure it’s just CVS that’s offering this cheaper cash price (somehow).

    Please keep in mind, to ensure you actually get a generic adrenaclick, you should ask prescriber to write a prescription for “adrenaclick” and make sure pharmacy knows you want the generic. If they order epi-auto injector it’s lrobably a crapshoot what you might get.

    Also, they’re not quite the same in use, so anyone switching from one to the other (and even school staff who might have to use) need to be aware of the differences and research it. One big example, you have to hold adrenaclick in the muscle for 10 seconds vs. 3 on an epi pen.

    But it’s definitely way better than people getting dr. to write Rx for epinephrine glass ampules and syringes. Good luck managing that yourself in an emergency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *