Low-cost alternatives to EpiPen available now

EpiPen shortage stressful for parents who have kids with severe allergies

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects, Lauren Verno - Consumer investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Widespread manufacturing problems have caused a shortage of EpiPens -- both the name brand and generic -- at pharmacies across the country. But for parents who have children with dangerous allergies, the ongoing shortage has been stressful and expensive.

“It’s nerve racking. We made it through kindergarten. You can never let your guard down,” said Nicole Gonzales, who's sending her child back to school with serious allergies. 

This can be frustrating and frightening for those who need this lifesaving drug in an emergency.

“The EpiPen, I fill it when I can. It’s a 50-50 shot when I go to the pharmacy if they have them. There’s just such a shortage,” Gonzales explained. 

Consumer Reports wants parents to know there are low-cost epinephrine alternatives available now.

“There are actually a lot of new options when shopping for an epinephrine injector and in fact, some might be more easily available or less expensive than a traditional EpiPens,” explained Consumer Reports health and medicine investigative reporter Lisa Gill.

One option is generic Adrenaclick, which is an auto-injector similar to EpiPen, though to use it you must remove two caps instead of one. The full line of the talking epinephrine auto-injector, Auvi-Q, is now available at Walgreens at no cost to consumers who have commercial insurance. And if you don’t live near a Walgreens, the manufacturer, Kaleo, will ship it to you for free.

Another epinephrine option that just came to on the market is called Symjepi. It’s a pre-filled syringe, not an auto-injector like the others, instead, users manually inject themselves. 

Given that the inventory of EpiPens and other epinephrine injectors is spotty, give yourself greater flexibility by asking your healthcare provider for a prescription that doesn’t specify a brand name. And that way your pharmacist can give you whatever is on hand,” Gill said.

And because store inventories vary, call ahead to make sure your pharmacy has the epinephrine injector you want.

To avoid potentially deadly mistakes or injuries, Consumer Reports strongly recommends asking your doctor or pharmacist for training with your new device. Any epinephrine injector could save your life in an emergency. 

All of these products have manufacturer coupons or other deals that can lower your costs. And Consumer Reports says no matter the drug, it’s always a good idea to ask for the pharmacist for lowest possible price to make sure you’re getting every available discount.

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