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Local Medics Use Alternative To Pricey EpiPens

Getting a shot of epinephrine, or adrenaline, can be life-saving for someone experiencing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. But the price for the most commonly prescribed auto-injector has skyrocketed over the last decade. As Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports, ambulances in Washoe County have been carrying a more cost-effective way to administer the drug.

Drug company Mylanmanufactures EpiPens, the ubiquitous adrenaline auto-injector brand. The list price for a pack of two EpiPens is a whopping $600. That’s a 450 percent increase since 2004, adjusting for inflation.

Diane Rolfs is with REMSA, Washoe County's ambulance provider.

“We just carry the regular epinephrine now because the EpiPens do out date," Rolfs says, "there is a cost to them, anytime something is pre-packaged like that, they’re just going to be more expensive.”

Rolfs says REMSA’s medics are using an alternative.

“The medics carry syringes, [and] know how to use them," Rolfs says, "and it’s just easier and more cost-effective for us to just carry a vial of epinephrine.”

There have been instances of allergy sufferers buying regular syringes to save money, but the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is recommending non-medical professionals use auto-injectors instead for proper injection and  more precise dosing. 

Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.