EpiPen cost soars 400%: Implications for EMS and the ED

I had a patient last week brought into the Pediatric ED for an allergic reaction. The child had known allergies, and by the EMR, had been prescribed an EpiPen by the Pediatrician – but mom said she didn’t have one at home to use. “We have insurance, but when I tried to fill the prescription, they wanted $620! I just can’t afford that,” she apologetically told me. I sat there in disbelief, assuming she had crappy insurance.

Flash forward three days later when the news hits the mainstream media:

“EpiPen price hike has parents of kids with allergies scrambling”

“Why did Mylan hike EpiPen prices 400%? Because they could”


Prehospital Implications

AEMTs and Paramedics, better check that drug box twice for your 1:1000 epi vials because you’ll be using them more often for anaphylaxis as parents and patients increasingly forgo the EpiPen. With a $400-$650 price tag (with insurance), and a 1 year expiration date, can you blame them? I certainly don’t.  So brush up on your local protocols, and stay vigilant. For a good review on anaphylaxis, check out this post.

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Emergency Department (ED) Implications

As with prehospital providers, we too need to be ready with the IM epinephrine.  It’s always been recommended after EpiPen administration for patients to come to the ED  to be observed for 4-6 hours in case they need a redose of epinephrine.  As patients increasingly skip that first dose, we should expect more potential for respiratory distress and need for difficult airway management.


EpiPen Alternative

Thanks to the Facebook Group EM Docs, I learned of AdrenaClick, a reasonable alternative we can prescribe for patients with severe allergies.  The mechanism of delivery is slightly different than the EpiPen (two caps to remove instead of one), but given that it’s 1/4 the cost – it’s what I’ll be prescribing moving forward.  AdrenaClick has a good training video on their website with detailed instructions for use.  With a coupon from GoodRx, AdrenaClick is available for as low as $141.67 at Wal-Mart.  It’s still more than the original $57 cost of an EpiPen when acquired by Mylan, but better than current EpiPen prices.

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If you want to learn more about the skyrocketing prices of the EpiPen and the not-so-coincidental tie to congressional mandates requiring EpiPens (like AEDs) in schools, check out this article on Bloomberg.

<Disclaimer> And, of course, I do not endorse the efficacy of, nor am I paid by AdrenaClick. They just happen to be the only other comparable epi auto-injector on the market right now.  <Disclaimer />

~Steph

 

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