The price of prescription medications has been rising for years, making many life-saving drugs financially inaccessible. The EpiPen is one such drug that has seen a massive price hike since 2007, jumping from about $94 for a two-pack to more than $600. We won’t speculate on the reasoning behind these pricing changes, but we will help you find ways to save on medications that you or your children might need to survive.
1. Manufacturer Coupons
The first place to go is straight to EpiPen manufacturer Mylan, where you can apply for a savings card that will get you reduced-cost or free EpiPens depending on your eligibility. If you want to go this route, apply quickly. This offer only lasts until December 31, 2016, and we don’t know if they’ll renew it for next year.
Dr. Vincent Ianelli of VeryWell, an expert in pediatrics, says finding coupons is your best bet for savings on an EpiPen. “[Coupons] help 80% of the folks with good insurance keep from paying a third tier copay on each EpiPen. You also want to make sure you get an EpiPen that has a long way to go before it expires. Don’t leave the pharmacy with an EpiPen that is going to expire in 3 to 4 months. You want it to last at least a year. Check the expiration date before you leave the pharmacy.”
Mylan recently announced it will be releasing a $300 two-pack generic version of the EpiPen that is “identical” in function and drug composition to the EpiPen itself. This announcement comes on the heels of speculation that Teva Pharmaceuticals will release a generic of their own in 2017. If you have EpiPens that won’t expire for a long time, it might be best to wait to see the pricing on Teva’s generic. However, Dr. Ianelli warns, “While cheaper, you do have to keep in mind that [generics] use a different mechanism. In an emergency, do you want someone who is used to using an EpiPen going to have figure out how to use a generic epinephrine delivery device?”
There are other generics you can try, and according to FatWallet forum user canoeguy1, “Epinephrine costs approximately $1 for a single dose. You can pre-fill a syringe yourself and just buy the ampule (replace in 3 months or so). You can also buy pre-filled syringes . . . At $600 vs. $1, that’s a hard sell.” However, before you go measuring and injecting yourself, get your doctor’s assistance in learning the proper methods. Lineage Therapeutics offers a generic option called Adrenaclick, which is just as simple to use as an EpiPen, and has been available since 2013 “that can be purchased for as little as $146 a pair at WalMart or Sam’s Club with a discount available at the Good Rx website,” says forum user bb6619.
3. Prescription Assistance Cards
You might’ve seen advertisements for “free drug cards” that offer you savings on your prescription meds. Links to sites like freedrugcard.com and Help Rx might show up in your web search results, and the savings they offer might seem too good to be true. “Get 75% off your prescriptions with this free coupon!” they’ll say, and you’ll wonder if they’re a scam. Some of them are and some of them aren’t, but you generally can’t use them at all if you have insurance. Legit prescription card sites should never ask for your personal information, and you should be able to print coupons and savings cards directly from the site they appear on. Check for guidelines to make sure you can use them in your state (Texas has weird rules about these things), and make sure they’re accepted by the pharmacy you plan to use them in.
You can also apply for assistance using sites like Needy Meds, which is a database that allows users to search for plans or assistance that apply to their particular drug or situation. If you’re concerned about where your savings are coming from or are a generally socially conscious person, check out this Washington Post article on drug assistance coupon cards and their impact on the price of drugs (courtesy of forum user vadeltachi).
4. Local Pharmacy Discounts
Many pharmacies have discount programs or policies that help customers save money on their prescriptions. Both Walgreens and CVS have discount programs that you can sign up for, with Walgreens’ Prescription Savings Club being a $20 a year subscription. CVS has an automatic discount they apply to your prescriptions depending on your insurance coverage, according to FatWallet forum user oppidum. “Last year, [my relative] asked me to find out from CVS why some months it costs him $15 and some months it costs him $30, and when I called that store to ask them, they explained to me about this cost reduction program that they can apply when ringing the purchase up.”
Costco’s pharmacy is available to non-members, and you can search their site to see how much your medications will cost (before insurance is applied) before you buy. Whatever you do, don’t buy medication from anywhere that isn’t an accredited pharmacy, and definitely don’t order from abroad online. “It’s crazy to buy pharmaceuticals off the internet when you have no clue if it’s a scam or not. For a lifesaving, critical drug like an EpiPen, it should be criminal to bet your child’s life on it. If you want to roll the dice and get yourself killed, fine. But don’t force the consequences of that decision on your kids!” says canoeguy1 on our forums.
5. Your Employee Benefits
If you have employee health benefits where you work, you may have an FSA (flex spending account) or HSA (health savings account) card that allows you to purchase medical products at pre-tax prices. Some employers even contribute up to a certain amount to your account, making it easier to save for anticipated health expenses. Absolutely utilize this when you’re buying your EpiPen or other prescription medications, and if you’re not sure if you have this or how it works, check with your employer and get the low-down.
There are a lot of options available for folks panicking about the 400% increase in EpiPen’s price, so take a deep breath and do your research. For more advice and reassurance, join our forums community and learn from them the best ways to save on your prescriptions!