A Colorado law took effect on January 1 that caps the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors at $60 per two-pack for those not eligible for Health First Colorado or Medicare.
The cap is a boon for allergy sufferers in the state, intended to make epinephrine more affordable and accessible to those in danger of anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening reaction to a food, drug, insect venom or environmental substance. Unfortunately, because of the way it’s been rolled out, it may have the opposite effect.
Pharmacists are feeling the pinch because they are still paying full price — in some cases up to $600 — to the manufacturers for replacements. By switching to generics they can cut the price in half, but that still means a significant loss to the pharmacy.
“To give it to a patient at 60 dollars… we’re just losing money. You want to take care of the public but you still can’t lose $240 on every [prescription] you send out the door, so something has to be done,” said Medicine Shoppe pharmacist, Barry Patterson.
“Hopefully, a lot more people that are in need of the EpiPen or the generic are going to be able to access it,” said Blende Drug Inc. pharmacist John Cernac. “If we’re gonna lose money, we may not just want to fill it if we’re going to lose that much.”
The pharmacists are asking for full reimbursements so they can keep stock on hand and stay in business.
“We have pharmacies closing left and right; it doesn’t look good,” said Patterson. “There’s been so many independents gone out in the last five or six years unfortunately, it is because of lower reimbursement cost.”
The State House Committee of Health and Insurance asserts the law requires manufacturers to reimburse pharmacies, although many pharmacists are unaware of how that will work.
Here is a news report from KOAA News5 concerning the issue: