Rising cost of life-saving EpiPen hurting families

Some families worry they can’t keep up with the increasing cost.
The price for a prescription has jumped from around $25 per pack to anywhere from $100-600.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:22 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Customers of epinephrine injectors, or EpiPens, say the price for the life-saving prescription has jumped in the last couple of years.

This is an emergency shot of epinephrine, or adrenaline, that helps someone breathe when they have an allergic reaction.

Parents who buy injectors for their kids say the price has increased from around $25 per pack to anywhere between $100 and $600.

“Well this year the best I could find was two for $100,” said Jaimee Arnold, whose son Jake relies on the prescription.

“Trying to figure out a way, like how are we going to do this for three different kids right, $450 each,” added Amanda Faleschini, a mother in Fort Mill.

A recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found one in 13 patients paid over $200 a year for injectors.

On top of the steep cost, many say either their insurance doesn’t cover the injectors, or their high-deductible health insurance plan leads them to pay hundreds at the full price.

“You’re kind of at the mercy of what they decide,” said Arnold.

David Waterson, a health care consultant based near Winston-Salem, says high prices for EpiPens started years ago when the pharmaceutical company Mylan bought EpiPen and jacked up the price.

While lower-cost options appeared back then, most brands across the board are now charging more.

“It’s making difficult choices in a life-threatening matter which is not great when you’re a parent and this is what you have,” said Faleschini.

Waterson says if families are wondering about the price, there are three things to do.

One is to talk to their physician and ask about different options.

Two, consider Medicaid for those who qualify.

Three, talk to community groups, school districts or anyone who might have alternative ways to access the medication.

Officials with UnitedHealthcare say they also introduced a new program that began this January. A spokesperson says it includes epinephrine at zero cost.