Live and Learn

Getting EpiPens Sucks This Year

It’s true.

We’ve all seen the recent news about Mylan, the drug maker that sells the EpiPen autoinjector, the six-fold price increases, and Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch who insists on defending the price hike.  She testified yesterday in a House Oversight Committee hearing and insisted the lifesaving drug is less profitable than it would appear, but with the price going from $100 for a two-pack in 2009 to $608 today for a lifesaving medication, it’s not very convincing.

Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat from MD, said Mylan was getting “filthy rich at the expense of our constituents.”  When asked what her salary was last year, she replied, “about $18 million.” Actually Representatives from both parties grilled her about the price hike and the Food and Drug Administration as well about not approving new drugs.

Meanwhile families are having to make the decision not to get the EpiPen because they can’t afford it. This is a decision no family should have to make. THIS IS LIFESAVING MEDICATION…  Ok, you get the picture, we’re screwed basically.

So meanwhile back at home my daughter’s EpiPens are expiring this month.  I had our pediatrician renew the prescription and informed him that we need 3.  I keep one at home, she carries one with her and we leave one in the office at school.  She’s a busy kid with many extracurricular activities. We have always received 3 sets. She’s 11 now – that’s 10 years. Turns out this time it’s not going to be so easy.

Before going to the pharmacy I went to Mylan’s website and printed up the coupon. Last year the coupon worked for us and we paid $0 for all 3 sets. It’s best to be prepared. I also called around to find a generic and there isn’t one that I could find. I guess that can vary regionally because there is something called Adrenaclick that is a more reasonably priced option.

When I arrived at the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, they only had one box for me and it had and expiration date of February 2017. Yeah, that’s not going to work.

First they tried to say that each injector in the box counted as 1. I had to open the box and explain to the pharmacist that they come as a set. Each set equals 1 prescription. Then I had to explain that selling a set with a February expiration date was unbelievably inconvenient. She repeatedly asked, “why” and “what does it matter what the expiration date is?” This argument made me ask for the manager. After speaking with 3 different people behind the counter for over an hour I was getting pretty upset.  Why was I getting such a hassle? I had to tell each person who works there how and why we need 3 sets – this was so completely unnecessary and so weird actually. It felt like I was trying to buy a controlled substance. It’s probably a lot easier to get marijuana and I’d bet the people behind the counter are nicer too. Do they really care why we need 3 and the boring details of how my daughter goes about her day?  It turns out the pharmacy is terrified of being audited and the doctor in fact needs to write the prescription explaining why we need 3 sets of auto-injectors. Getting 3 sets off some sort of red-flag pharmacy alarm now and the doctor has to make a special note to the pharmacy. So here is a fun accessory to the price hike that I had not anticipated – now the pharmacy will suspect you of dishonesty when you go to get this lifesaving medication.  Perhaps they think I’m going to sell them? Who knows, but after several hours and tons of back and forth I still have only received two sets so far.

In the meantime I get to go back to the doctor and bug him to write out the prescription in a special way so they will accept it. Then I get to go back and visit my favorite people at  the pharmacy for more humiliating arguing in public – yay.

For the two that I did purchase, I was able to get August and November 2017 expiration dates. AND I did use the coupon and am happy to report that it covered the price of my copay so that was a relief.  Most of the time my copay is around $150 for each set – multiply that by 3 and you’ve got $450, but some years it was over $600.

This is so important – Check the expiration date and insist on it being a year away. They will order a new one, but they won’t want to. I’ve actually had a pharmacy try to sell me a set that expired in a month, but I didn’t notice until I got home – they took it back but it was a huge hassle.

I hope you all have a better experience than we are having getting your EpiPen, but it’s been really upsetting for us so far.

Until next time, Lisa

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