Consumer Reports: EpiPen alternatives

Many families depend on having an epinephrine pen in case of an allergic reaction. However, problems with manufacturing have caused a shortage in some areas of both brand name and generic EpiPens.

But there are alternatives and Consumer Reports says some will also save you money.

Nicole Gonzalez knows sending a child with serious allergies back to school is stressful.

"It's nerve racking, we made it through kindergarten. You can never let your guard down," she said.

A nationwide shortage of EpiPens adds to that worry.

"The Epipen, I fill it when I can, it's a 50-50 shot when I go to the pharmacy if they have them," said Gonzalez.

This can be frustrating and frightening for those who need this life saving drug in an emergency, but the good news is there are now more options.

"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," said 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 Auvi- Q, the talking epinephrine auto-injector 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 market called Symjepi. It's a pre-filled syringe, not an auto-injector, so instead, users manually inject themselves.
"Given that inventory of Epipens and other epinephrine injectors is so 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," said Gill.

It's recommended to call your pharmacy ahead of time to see if they have the device you want and it's also important to ask your doctor or pharmacist for a training with your new device to avoid any potentially deadly mistakes or injuries.

Any epinephrine injector could save your life in an emergency.

"You need it and you need several of them!" said Gonzalez.

And there is one more option that has just hit the market. It's called EpiPen Junior for kids and it is now available at most retail pharmacies.

And many of these companies offer coupons or other deals that can help lower the cost. You can ask your pharmacist for pricing options.

For more details on alternatives and prices, visit Consumer Reports.org .
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