The EpiPen brand name is practically synonymous with the word auto-injector; however, there is a lesser known generic epinephrine auto-injector available.
The epinephrine injection, USP auto-injector is a generic version of the Adrenaclick auto-injector, made by Impax Laboratories (formerly Amedra). Those struggling to meet the high cost of Mylan’s EpiPens, and not willing or able to wait for Mylan’s generic version to roll out, might consider purchasing the Impax option.
Carrying the same life-saving drug as the EpiPen, and at the same dosages, the epinephrine injection, USP auto-injector may be a more affordable option for some individuals and families, but it's not cheap—and it definitely pays to shop around.
Researching on GoodRx.com, for example, you will discover that a pair of the generic auto-injectors are available for about $140 from Walmart and Sam’s Club (with printable discount cards), but other pharmacies are charging up to $380 for the same product.
Those who want the epinephrine injection, USP auto-injector should have their physician write a prescription for “epinephrine auto-injector” or “generic Adrenaclick,” and call their pharmacy to see whether the generic is in stock. It may be necessary to shop for a pharmacy that keeps generic auto-injectors on hand.
Buyers should make sure they understand how to implement the generic auto-injector before its use is required. Instructions for administration are printed on the auto-injector, and the epinephrine injection, USP auto-injector website offers clearly worded written and video instructions. Free training devices are available upon request.
Another epinephrine option, and the most economical, is purchasing manual syringes and inexpensive vials of epinephrine. Yet, while easy on the pocket book, this do-it-yourself alternative carries a higher risk for mistakes.
Those who opt for this alternative:
- Need physician or pharmacist training on filling a syringe with the correct epinephrine dosage, and on injecting the drug quickly and effectively. Knowing the epinephrine’s concentration, and getting the right dose is especially critical with children.
- Need to have presence of mind and steady-enough hands to speedily prepare and inject the drug in nerve-wracking, emergency situations.
- Need to replace the epinephrine vials about every three months.
Obviously, if the epinephrine administrator is also the person experiencing an allergic reaction, severe symptoms may prevent the effective use of this manual method. However, having the syringe-and-vial available is better than having no epinephrine at all, and might be the only choice open to some families or individuals.
Parents should also find out if their allergic child’s school stocks undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors - those that can be used by anyone demonstrating allergy symptoms. If not, advocate for their acquisition with the school’s administrator. Most states allow, but do not require schools to stock these auto-injectors. Fortunately, FARE provides an excellent toolkit for undesignated auto-injector advocates (link below).
Reaching Over the Border
A third epinephrine alternative is to purchase the name brand auto-injector from Canada. The supplier Canada Drugs Online, for instance, sells two EpiPens for about $206, plus shipping costs. The CIPA, or Canadian International Pharmacy Association, lists Canadian online pharmacies that distribute auto-injectors.
Buying from Canadian suppliers may appeal to those needing a more affordable auto-injector option, but want to stick with a name brand they have come to trust.