Rising costs of EpiPens causes concerns

AUSTIN (KXAN) --  People with allergies know just how important it is to have an EpiPen on hand at all times. But in recent months, prices for the life-saving tool have skyrocketed, leaving patients frustrated.

One of their main competitors, Auvi-Q, recalled products last year and stopped manufacturing products.

"There's not a cost war anymore, so they can kind of do what they want with the price," said Sunny Kallmer, a physician's assistant with Texan Allergy. "And it has gone up. It used to be about $400 per EpiPen, they come in a two-pack. Whereas, now, I'm seeing more $500 and $600."

Kallmer says her patients are frustrated.

"I see them maybe getting less or they might be letting them expire even though they're not supposed to. Or some of them are just choosing not to get them because they can't afford them," said Kallmer.

Dan Connor has been purchasing EpiPens for the past seven years, after learning his son was allergic to wheat, eggs, milk and peanuts.

The family says cost varies each year based on insurance and coupons, but is typically $50 for them.

Last week they say they were shocked to learn it would cost $617. While a coupon would've brought the cost down to $517, the family says they weren't ready to purchase it for that much. Now they're considering whether to switch to a generic brand.

"You always want to stick with familiarity, it's a name brand that we trust. It's sort of frustrating that the price is up, so we are still in that conversation," said Connor. "I would really like [EpiPen] to know, if the price was held low, we would continue to buy EpiPens - not only as the primary, but a backup."

However, Kallmer says she's seen generics cost $300-$500.

The cost of a patient's EpiPen will depend a lot on their insurance. Kallmer says if you are switching insurance, it's important to look at the plan's prescription benefits.

She also suggests looking for coupons through EpiPen's website. 

Patients can also get treatment at Texan Allergy, and work towards getting rid of their allergies. However, they do not treat insect venom allergies or food allergies with shots.

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