General Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Are low cost Epinepherine, Ana-Kits viable alternatives to expensive Epipens?

Asked by LuckyGuy (38463points) August 30th, 2016

Thirty years ago you could buy an “Ana Kit” (sometimes called a “bee kit” or “insect bite kit”) that came with a simple, pre-loaded syringe that had steps in it so you had 2 doses if needed. The neat, flat, plastic container also included 2 antihistamine tablets and space for information and other meds if needed.
The system was simple and relatively inexpensive. There were no complicated spring-loaded pistons and triggers like in the current Epipen.
The kit was so cheap you did not mind tossing it when it expired.

To reduce costs, why isn’t there a manufacturer selling Ana Kits? Load the same epinephrine in simple syringes and charge less.

Does anyone here remember them? No one seems to be making them.
Are they available outside of the US?

If they were available here I’ll bet almost every Epipen user would switch.
(And Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO, Heather Bresch, can donate the mountain of unsold Epipens while watching the stock plummet.)

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16 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

The kits were so inexpensive I used to keep some in my car and motorcycle “just in case”.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I was just mentioning the sticker shock of my life to another jelly. $550 for an epipen 2pack and that was after the $100 discount. Just a few years ago it was like 50 bucks. Yes I would switch. The high price is causing EMT crews to basically make their own. Seeing the CEO of Mylan sit and defend it makes me wish hell was a real place so she can go there and burn while being stabbed by thousands of epipens

chyna's avatar

She is from my state. There was a ruckus a few years back when she got the job at Mylan that she had not completed her degree, that she was several credits short. At some point the college realized they had made a mistake in her credits and she did indeed have enough! Her dad is senator Joe Manchin. He’s very wealthy. All this to point out that she doesn’t care what people pay for this drug as long as she retains her 19 million dollar a year salary.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m glad to hear there might be an alternative. Epipen is such an old medicine that I couldn’t understand why they had such a lock in the market that they could gouge people so much. I learned about the outrageously high price several years ago when I friend of mine developed a seafood allergy that does effect her mouth, it feels to her like her mouth and tongue swells a little. I told her to think about keeping an epipen in her purse, and she said her doctor recommended the same, but then she learned the price was around $300 (back then) and decided to risk kit. I was dumbfounded by the price. She didn’t have insurance to cover it, but even with insurance we the people are helping pay that crazy price for people who really need it.

Not to mention I think it’s a good idea for restaurants to have one on hand. Even airplanes.

Anyway, I couldn’t help thinking, isn’t there a generic by now? Or, more than one manufacturer? Problem in pharma is sometimes they just collude. I didn’t take any time to investigate it.

I had thought that epipen might have a patent on the mechanism. The pen, not the drug.

You can charge a lot of money when it’s life or death. Remember the Q about the new hep c drug? It’s just awful.

I’m soooo glad the media made this an issue. I probably have mutual funds that own stock in the drug (I have no idea) but I don’t care.

This drug is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to this sort of thing.

Anyone surprised this price gouging goes on and who has been defending competition as being enough to bring down prices needs to do some research. competition was not working in most cases. We still are primarily counting on competition, Obamacare did not change that at all.

canidmajor's avatar

These keep coming across my sight line.

Cruiser's avatar

An Ohio Doctor is making your syringe idea a reality with a homemade kit for less than $10.00

janbb's avatar

I heard a piece – probably on NPR – that there is a generic coming out so the price goudge is to make as much extra money as they can first.

They have reduced the price of a simpler pen I believe but it is still about $300.

Big Pharma needs to be reined in.

chyna's avatar

The pen is the exact same pen that is now being used in overdoses to deliver Narcan to reverse the effects of opioids.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Cruiser That’s the idea! The kit I knew had the syringe already loaded with 0.6 mg.
If you needed a dose you’d inject and push the plunger in until it stopped. 0.3 mg of epi. If you needed a follow-up shot you would turn the plunger 90 degrees and push again until it stopped That would deliver a second 0.3 mg. Simple! And very reliable!
And inexpensive!.

I’m thinking this would be a great kick starter project for someone!

Response moderated
Darth_Algar's avatar

The EpiPen isn’t the only epinephrine auto-injector on the market. Mylan does not hold a patent on the drug or the delivery method (which was developed by the US military more than half a century ago for troops in the field to deliver quick antidotes to chemical/biological/nerve agents). Mylan hold a brand name.

Now in most states the pharmacist will dispense the lowest cost generic version available unless specifically instructed by the prescribing doctor. Thus if your doctor writes you a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering drug he’ll write the prescription for “lovastatin”, which is the generic name of the drug. The pharmacist will generally dispense the lowest-priced version of lovastatin they have. But if the doctor writes the prescription for “Mevacor” then you’ll get the name brand version manufactured by Merck & Co.

By the same token you can probably request that your doctor write you a prescription for “epinephrine auto-injector” rather than for “EpiPen”.

JLeslie's avatar

^^My experience, and this might vary by state, is the generic is always dispensed unless the script says “brand only,” or something similar to indicate no substitutions. Or, if the patient requests when at the pharmacy that the brand be given.

jca's avatar

I’m seeing on FB criticisms that Narcan is free and then someone wrote another criticism that anybody can administer Narcan but not Epi-Pen. A friend who is a school bus driver wrote that she has to call 911 and wait for first responder if a school kid passenger is having an issue – she can’t give him the Epi Pen but yet anybody can give Narcan.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Well, that is a rule to be broken obviously. Like crossing into personal property to save a drowning child. Or, the fed going into New Orleans after Katrina even though they were not formally asked. Break the law and deal with the consequences later, but save the life.

sandpiper65's avatar

You need a little glass vial of epinephrine and a plastic syringe (with sterile needle). Ask your family doctor to prescribe the vial with the appropriate dilution of epinephrine and a syringe and needle of the correct size. Have him or her show you how to open the vial (you just snap the top off – can be done with one hand)

That’s all you need. Nothing magic in Mylan epipens.

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