If you’ve got a child with a life-threatening allergy — or maybe you have that condition yourself — you know that auto-injectors like the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr can be frightfully expensive.
And to add insult to injury, the market-leading EpiPen product is in short order at many pharmacies around the country right now!
That’s because of supply snafus at a St. Louis, Missouri, factory owned by Pfizer that makes all the EpiPens in the United States. Pfizer sub-contracts the manufacture of the pens from Mylan, which owns the rights to the flagship auto-injector brand.
So what’s an allergy-sufferer to do? Consider these EpiPen alternatives…
EpiPen alternatives in the marketplace
EpiPen may be the best-known name in the game, but there are other contenders out there. Prescriptions are required for all the alternatives listed below.
Chain pharmacy CVS sells the authorized generic of an epinephrine auto-injector called Adrenaclick, which contains the same active ingredient as the EpiPen in the same dose.
With a cash price of $109.99 for a two-pack, the CVS generic offering is a lot cheaper than the name brands. Furthermore, media reports suggest that a manfacturer’s coupon can bring the price down substantially — by $100! That makes the effective price just $10 for many consumers.
Interestingly, Adrenaclick is experiencing shortages just like its competitor the EpiPen. The Financial Times reports that the short supply of Adrenaclick is due to issues at a McPherson, Kansas, manufacturing plant.
The AUVI-Q is another viable alternative to the EpiPen. This device is shaped differently than a traditional auto-injector. It’s smaller than a deck of cards and looks like a cell phone.
And, get this: It has the ability to give verbal instructions to talk whomever is going to administer the shot through the process!
Money expert Clark Howard, who has a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy, has been following the progress of AUVI-Q since 2013.
This $0 out-of-pocket offer applies even if you have commercial insurance, a high-deductible plan or if your insurance doesn’t cover AUVI-Q at all.
Symjepi, which is manufactured by Adamis Pharmaceuticals, is a new epinephrine auto-injector that got approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2017.
A price check on GoodRx.com indicated it’s not yet available at pharmacies, so there’s no word yet on how much this product will cost — but it’s definitely one to keep your eye on going forward!
As of February 2018, Dr. Dennis J. Carlo, President and CEO of Adamis, said the company was actively involved in negotiations with two potential partners as it seeks to bring Symjepi to market.
No concrete timeline was offered, but the CEO did offer the following assurance:
“My belief is that we are finally nearing the conclusion of this process, and I am hopeful that our next communication will be to announce a definitive agreement and provide information concerning when Symjepi may be available in the market.”
Several posters across the Internet noted that dosing and injecting yourself with epinephrine is not very different than what diabetics who routinely use insulin injections do.
To that end, we present the following comment we found in our research for this article:
“My wife carries an ampule of epinephrine with a syringe, but it’s not an ordinary syringe as it has a ‘gauze’ type of filter at the tip to eliminate any glass from entering when one breaks the ampule. Total ‘retail’ cost is under $50 USD total for all. I will add that she has a master’s degree in nursing and is a CRNP (certified registered nurse practitioner), but it doesn’t look too difficult imo.” – Marlin57
Of course, it goes without saying that you’d want to talk with your doctor before trying to save money in this manner!
If you’re finding yourself vexed by the short supply of your preferred auto-injector, you may just have to play the waiting game for a few weeks.
The FDA maintains a list of medications in short supply and you can keep tabs on the epinephrine auto-injector situation here.
Looking on the bright side, the demand for these auto-injectors tends to dip right now as we enter the summer and schools dismiss for the season. The big crunch time will come in several months when children go back to school around the country and parents look to refill their prescriptions for a new school year.
Hopefully, the coming weeks will give manufacturing facilities some time to work through the supply bottlenecks!