Out-of-Pocket Costs for Epinephrine Auto-Injectors Examined

salted peanuts, food allergy, epinephrine
Cost-sharing still substantial for some using nonbranded auto-injectors, such as those enrolled in high-deductible health plans

HealthDay News — Out-of-pocket spending for epinephrine auto-injectors decreased among privately insured patients in 2017, coinciding with availability of lower-priced nonbranded products, according to a report published online July 11 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD, from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Rena M. Conti, PhD, from Boston University, used commercial claims to assess out-of-pocket spending on epinephrine auto-injectors between 2015 and 2019. The analysis included 657,813 patients (aged 0 to 64 years).

The researchers found that in 2015, 95.3% of fills were for branded products (EpiPen or Auvi-Q) vs 11.2% in 2019. In 2017, the year after the authorized generic of EpiPen was released, nonbranded products jumped to 58% from seldom used in 2015 to 2016. Mean annual out-of-pocket spending declined from $115.80 in 2016 to $75.80 in 2019. The median out-of-pocket spending per two-pack in 2019 was $736 for Auvi-Q, $63 for branded EpiPen, and $10 for each nonbranded product. For 60.9% of patients, annual out-of-pocket spending across epinephrine auto-injector fills in 2019 was $0 to $20, but for 7.5% of patients, it was greater than $200. The median annual number of auto-injector units dispensed was identical between these 2 groups of patients.

“Findings suggest patients who only use nonbranded epinephrine auto-injectors can still face substantial cost-sharing if plans employ deductibles and co-insurance in pharmacy benefits,” the authors write.

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