EpiPen prices have increased 400 percent in recent years. Pharmacists say the the auto-injectors that can stop life-threatening emergencies caused by allergic reactions have gone from 57 dollars to as much as 800 dollars.
Diane Nguyen, a pharmacist at Desert RX Pharmacy said the EpiPen price increase has resulted in patients refusing to pick up their prescriptions. Nguyen said she has only filled one EpiPen prescription in 6 months.
"I have patients who refuse to pick up the medication cause their co-pay is so high. I explain to them that their lives cost more," said Nguyen.
The EpiPen manufacturer, Mylan, says the health care system is to blame for the price increase and has promised to provide an instant saving card worth 300 dollars to patients who face high out-of-pocket costs. The drug-maker also said it will expand the group of patients eligible for financial assistance and open a pathway to sell its EpiPens directly to consumers.
"The CEO says they do have co-pay cards or saving cards for the patients, but its a little bit misleading because they do put a lot of restrictions on those cards; for example, if you are a cash-paying patient that card does not apply, if you have government support on your health care, you can't use those cards."
The fight over the dramatic cost increase has reached U.S lawmakers. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is urging people to take action.
"Call your member of Congress because I for years have been trying to get some bills passed that would bring more competition to not only the EpiPen market but to all pharmaceutical markets," said Klobuchar.
Those affected by the price increase are hoping to see change soon.
Nguyen says that she directs her customers to the Patient Access Network Foundation. Those who qualify can get with co-pays.
I also did some research to offer the best tips on purchasing EpiPens;
- Ask the pharmacy if they have vouchers
- To get the most bang for your buck: Pay attention to expiration dates. Buy the EpiPen that expires later.
- Lowest price for EpiPen (which is sold in 2-pack): Walmart in Palm Desert: $683.47
- Lowest price for generic version: Walgreens in Palm Springs $247.3 for 1 pen
- Look for manufacturer discounts and coupons online