Three ways pharmacists can help patients afford EpiPens

The price of EpiPens has skyrocketed

At Hartig Drug in Iowa City, Laura Knockel, PharmD, BCACP, and her pharmacist colleagues always look at copays associated with EpiPen prescriptions, which can cost hundreds of dollars. If the patient’s insurance permits it, Knockel and her colleagues will go online and help a patient secure a coupon from the manufacturer to reduce the copay.

Knockel said most EpiPen copays are at least $100 but can be much less with the discount coupon.

“We make sure to let them know that we used a coupon,” said Knockel, who is also a clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. “For example, if a patient has a $150 copay but sees a $50 copay after the coupon, they are much more likely to pay for it if they have the knowledge that we saved them $100.”

The price of EpiPens has skyrocketed. Most cost around $600 without private insurance, and even when patients have insurance, copays can be too costly, leading many to forgo purchase of what’s seen as the most reliable way to inject epinephrine and recover from an anaphylactic reaction.

With 1 in 50 Americans at risk of an anaphylactic reaction, having an EpiPen readily available can mean the difference between life and death. Pharmacists and other health care providers want to make sure patients who need them, have them.

Following are three ways pharmacists can help patients afford EpiPens:

  • For insured patients, help them secure a coupon from the manufacturer to reduce the price of the copay.
  • For uninsured patients, help them enroll in a patient assistance program that will provide EpiPens free of charge.
  • Make prescribers, patients, and other pharmacists aware of an available generic product. Prescriptions need to indicate epinephrine auto-injector, not EpiPen.

“Anything that we as health care practitioners can do to mitigate that life-threatening issue by promoting awareness of these alternative products or informing patients and providers about copay and patient assistance programs will help patients acquire this drug that can be the difference between life and death,” said Maria Miller Thurston, PharmD, BCPS, who practices as an ambulatory care clinical pharmacy specialist in an inner-city internal medicine clinic in Atlanta.

For more information, visit www.pharmacytoday.org for the upcoming September 2016 issue of Pharmacy Today.