EpiPens Are Quietly Getting More & More Expensive

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Update: According to Mylan, the wholesale cost of EpiPen has not increased since last year. "The current wholesale acquisition cost (the cost set by Mylan) is $608 for EpiPen® Auto-Injector and $300 for the authorized generic of EpiPen Auto-Injector," a spokesperson told Refinery29. However, "there are multiple parties involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain that may affect the final cost a patient pays at the pharmacy."
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The makers of EpiPen faced major backlash last year after a CBS News report pointed out that the life-saving allergy medication had increased in price about 500% over the last seven years. Mylan, the company that makes the product, had to go on the defensive to explain the price hike and Mylan Nevada even faced a lawsuit from the Justice Department for overcharging the government for EpiPens (they settled for $465 million).
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After the backlash and the settlement, it would seem that the price of EpiPen would decrease, at least a little. But that's not the case, according to a new report from drug-pricing site GoodRx. In fact, EpiPens have gotten even more expensive in the last year.
A package of two EpiPens — which contain only a few dollars worth of epinephrine, the drug that can save people from severe allergic reactions — cost about $103 in 2009, about $609 in 2016, and now can cost up to $750, depending on the pharmacy, according to GoodRx.
That's the price for name-brand EpiPen before insurance. Two pharmacists in New York City confirmed to Refinery29 that EpiPen can cost more than it did last year. A CVS pharmacy sells EpiPen for about $650 and a Duane Reade pharmacy told us they sell it for about $735.
"It's a totally established brand name with little competition," Bloomberg senior medical reporter Robert Langreth told CBS last year. "That gives them freedom to raise the price every year."
The price hike caused outrage last year especially among parents whose children have life-threatening allergies. One set of parents, who have two kids who need EpiPens, told CBS that they noticed the price increase after they switched to a high-deductible health plan and suddenly had to pay $600 for the medicine that used to cost $80.
These parents can't refuse to buy EpiPens, or else they would be putting their children's lives at risk. For people in similar situations, who just can't pay $600-$750, there are a couple of cheaper options available, according to GoodRx.
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In December of 2016 Mylan launched it's first generic version of EpiPen, which costs about $300. CVS also sells a generic version of Adrenaclick — a less common brand of epinephrine injector — which costs about $100.
Although the brand name of EpiPen seems to carry a lot of trust, Doug Hirsch, co-founder of GoodRx, says people can also trust other versions of the drug. The medication inside is the same, it's only the delivery system that has been patented by Mylan.
"Since this drug isn't covered by many insurance plans and parents need to buy a significant amount of it, I believe the lowest cost version of epinephrine is likely your best option," Hirsch tells Refinery29. "In addition to the Epipen generic, epinephrine can also be purchased as Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, and a generic version of Adrenaclick being sold for as little as $10 at CVS."
He also suggests looking for manufacturer coupons and considering patient assistance programs to lower the cost.
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