Pets That Depend On EpiPens

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by the predatory pricing of the life-saving medication epinephrine. As the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its subsidiary King continue to inflate the pricing of their drug, our dogs and cats whose pet owners can’t afford to pay for their prescriptions are in dire straits as well.   


Art Weber’s 5-year-old, Whitney, has a serious allergy to bee stings. So, these folks are among the growing number who may need to shell out approximately $600 or higher annually for regular doses of EpiPens. Whitney, however, isn’t their daughter. She’s a beagle that could go into shock without a prompt dosage of epinephrine.

“Our dog is a member of the family,” Cheviot Hills resident Weber, 71, said. “We have all the concerns that everyone else has. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to take care of her.”

Resorting to whatever’s necessary for a pet often can hit a family’s pocketbook sometimes more than caring for a human family member, because most pet owners choose not to buy health insurance for their furry friends.

Or pet owners do have coverage but their dog or cat’s medical problem has been deemed a pre-existing condition, and thus ineligible for insurance.

To which you might respond: “Wait a minute, didn’t Obamacare fix that?” Or what about “Medicare? [note: for more about insurance coverage for pets, see my previous post: “Should Pet Owners Have Medicare For Their Pets?”]

Why do our Pets need Epinephrine?    

Epinephrine is primarily used for our pets suffering from anaphylaxis (severe, immediate allergic reactions to insect bites, drugs, and other allergens) and for cardiac resuscitation in dogs, cats, and other pets. Signs of anaphylaxis include a sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, pale gums, cold limbs, or coma, rapid heart rate, weak pulse, and difficulty breathing.

Where to Purchase?

Depending on where you reside, an EpiPen prescription will need to be written by your veterinarian. He or she will determine dosage dependent on the size of your pet. Large dogs can use an adult EpiPen and medium dogs can use a child EpiPen. If possible, pet owners should make a point of shopping around for the best prices, rather than settling a veterinarian's first quote. GoodRX offers price comparisons for a variety of pet medications.

Other sites worth checking include Discount Pet Medicines, Universal Pet Meds and, although these tend to be more focused on pet-specific medications, such as flea and tick treatments, rather than human drugs.

Regardless, your veterinarian should be able to assess your pet’s condition and provide you with what you need. The harsh reality is that pets often become part of a pet owner’s family, so healthcare costs and/or insurance need to be worked into the household’s budget to accommodate — just like what's done for our children.