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Sticker shock: Is there an alternative to EpiPen?

Posted at 11:27 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 08:29:00-04

There's growing outrage over the rising cost of EpiPen for those who need it. The popular life-saving medication has hiked in price, and over the course of the past eight years has jumped 480 percent.

The high cost is leaving many to pay out of pocket, up to more than $700 for the medication, especially for those who have a high deductible insurance.

Some local pharmacists say there may be an alternative.

"The doctor could, if willing to, write a prescription for a plain Epinephrine Pen," said Dennis Galluzzo, President at Supervising Pharmacist of Family Medical Pharmacy Inc. in Amherst. "Most people don't even know there is a generic, or semi-generic, to EpiPen."

Galluzzo says the somewhat generic is called Epinephrine Auto Injector, and it works the same as an EpiPen. But there's a catch: the equivalent medication doesn't have the exact same bio-chemical composition that the name brand does, and it isn't approved by the FDA as a substitution for EpiPen. Galluzzo says this is leading some doctors tp steer clear of prescribing it.

"No one wants to take a chance on a person's life. If you're in shock and EpiPen is an approved product, without any problems, with the backing of the company and the FDA, that's what people should do."

Galluzzo says the Epinephrine Auto Injector is still expensive, it retails for about $300, but that's still half of EpiPen's price. He says if doctors are willing to prescribe it, they need to write a prescription for just the Epinephrine Auto Injector and cannot include the word "EpiPen" in the script.

Some doctors, like Marissa Burg from Amherst Pediatrics, say parents are outraged over the price, and are going to drastic measures to get the medication at a cheaper price.

"Some parents tell me that they've taken their prescriptions to Canada and they've been filled," said Dr. Burg. "I don't know enough about that to recommend it to people, but they've given me numbers like $50. As an American doctor, I can't recommend that."

There is a coupon that people can use for EpiPen. It promises to save you money. It can be located here on EpiPen's website.