Treating Allergies Safely – The EpiPen Dilemma


Iowa Clinic: Treating Allergies Safely – The EpiPen Dilemma | Des Moines Moms Blog

This sponsored post is brought to you courtesy of The Iowa Clinic — providing comprehensive care for the entire family.  

The Great EpiPen Dilemma

There has been a great deal of media attention given to the price of the EpiPen in the recent weeks. The EpiPen is used for patients who suffer from an anaphylactic reaction to different allergens, from shellfish to nuts to drug reactions. As many have seen, the price of the EpiPen has risen dramatically and has left many people wondering how they will be able to afford this potentially lifesaving drug.  

How does an EpiPen work?Iowa Clinic: Treating Allergies Safely – The EpiPen Dilemma | Des Moines Moms Blog

Epinephrine by itself is not at all expensive, costing around $5 a vial. The EpiPen is a pre-dosed delivery system that takes the guesswork out of dosing and makes it easy to administer the epinephrine quickly and effectively. Because the medicine alone is quite inexpensive, public outrage over the price increase has lead to different questions about less expensive options for patients.

It is important to note that when an anaphylactic reaction is happening, time is absolutely critical. Seconds wasted in calculating the dose, drawing up the medicine, or having to redraw after an error is made can be the difference between life and death. It is quite easy to draw up a medication when the pressure isn’t on, but when someone is actively having an anaphylactic reaction, the error rate dramatically increases.


As such, the EpiPen’s pre-dosed delivery system is ideal to avoid these problems – but has become unaffordable for some. It has been suggested that doctors simply prescribe a vial of epinephrine and teach patients how to draw up and dose correctly with a syringe. This practice is not safe for a person who is not trained in medicine, and it is not recommended. The chances for errors in dosing or in administration of the medicine are simply unacceptable, given the consequences.

Additionally, people have turned to eBay or Craigslist to buy medication, and it cannot be overstated what a bad idea this is. Buying medicine from somebody who is not a licensed pharmacist is incredibly dangerous as the medicine may be expired, tampered with, or simply not there at all.


Fortunately, there is an alternative to the EpiPen which some patients may find more affordable – Lineage Therapeutics has an epinephrine Auto-injector that pre-doses the Epinephrine properly and without error, making it far safer. Simply ask your doctor to write for Adrenaclick and mark “substitution allowed.”  The only difference between this and an EpiPen is that the needle is visible with the generic alternative.

For more information about treating allergies and allergic reactions, contact your family physician or specialist. The Iowa Clinic provides eight convenient locations for family practice and is the largest multi-specialty clinic in Central Iowa. For an appointment call 515.875.9000.

Dr. Jon Crosbie, Iowa Clinic, Des MoinesAbout the Author

Doctor Jon Crosbie is a board certified Family Medicine Physician currently accepting new patients at The Iowa Clinic in Waukee. He is a native Iowan, having graduated high school from Earlham and attended Iowa State and Northern Iowa Universities prior to medical school at Des Moines University. He enjoys woodworking, staying active, and spending time with his wife Kelley, daughter Madeleine, and Rottweiler Eli.

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