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Instead Of Trashing A $600 EpiPen, Some Patients Get A Refill

News  |  By Kaiser Health News  
   March 01, 2017

A Maine physician helps her patients sidestep the costs of an EpiPen by purchasing reusable auto-injectors and filling them with epinephrine herself.

This article first appeared March 1, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.

By Shefali Luthra

The concern over soaring prescription drug prices continues to dominate headlines, attracting scrutiny from Capitol Hill and President Donald Trump, who said during a January press conference that the industry was "getting away with murder."

But some doctors — frustrated by what they see as unreasonable price tags and political stagnation — are coming up with do-it-yourself solutions. Their efforts to bring down costs for their patients highlight the arbitrary and often needlessly exorbitant prices of drugs in the U.S., they say.

One striking example is the response of Dr. Cathleen London, a family doctor in Milbridge, Maine, to news that the pharmaceutical company Mylan had driven up the prices of its signature EpiPen, a branded auto-injecting device containing a preset dose of epinephrine, a lifesaving drug, to be used by people at risk of experiencing anaphylactic shock triggered by an allergy. "I thought: This is disgusting. There's got to be another auto-injector," she said. "I started Googling."

She ended up devising a workaround for her patients who needed one.

"I basically build an auto-injector. I can do it for pediatric and adult dosing," she said. "I found the right syringe. I put in the dose that I wanted. Whether it's expired or used, people come back and refill it."


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Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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