When my doctor says she’s writing me a prescription for “Prilosec,” she really writes out a prescription for omeprazole, the generic name for the drug.
The same isn’t true for the EpiPen, and this is usually true across the board. Part of the reason for this is the Epipen isn’t a drug. It’s a product that administers a drug.
So there’s no “generic name” for this drug. And doctors just end up writing out “EpiPen”.
What results is a specific prescription that pharmacies fill specifically–with the EpiPen.
But if doctors wrote out a generic description of the product, pharmacies could fill the prescription with a cheaper product. The thing is, doctors don’t always realize this is possible.
In most states, to get the low-cost, EpiPen alternative, you can’t use a prescription for “EpiPen” from your doctor. That’s because pharmacists at your drugstore likely won’t be able to automatically substitute the low-cost version if your prescription is written for EpiPen. Instead, ask your doctor to write a prescription for an “epinephrine auto-injector” or “generic Adrenaclick.”
There’s a reason for doctors’ lack of knowledge about the alternatives (or how to write the prescription). According to Consumer Reports, EpiPen did an intensive marketing campaign to get doctors used to writing EpiPen.
Luckily, there are twelve states that let you substitute the generic, even if the doctor wrote EpiPen, “including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Vermont, and Washington.”
If you aren’t in one of these states, try to get your doctor to write a generic description. I know with something as important as an allergic reaction (and your life) there’s probably some skepticism around using a generic version of the EpiPen. But if you aren’t filling your EpiPen because of the cost, this can save your life.
And you can never know when an allergic reaction will strike. I had one hit me when traveling over the Pacific ocean from Hawaii to California. Luckily, it wasn’t anaphylaxis and there was a doctor on board too–who I knew!
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: These epinephrine auto-injectors do not all operate the same. Please do not assume a generic one operates exactly like the EpiPen and read all the instructions.
Also, if your pharmacy does not have the generic version in stock, they can usually order it for next day pick up. But as more people find out about the generic version, supplies may become limited since the manufacturer is probably not used to filling this many prescriptions. So I would get a prescription filled sooner than later.
How has the increase in EpiPen cost affected you?