Do You Need A Prescription For An EpiPen?

Allergic reactions can range from very mild (like a scratchy throat, for example) to life-threateningly serious. Anaphylaxis is a potentially deadly allergic reaction that can cause hives, nausea, dizziness, and constricted airways (via Mayo Clinic). While many of us are aware of our allergies and do our best to avoid the triggers, sometimes a severe allergic reaction comes as a surprise and medical attention becomes necessary. This is when an EpiPen can be used to diffuse what could quickly become a life-threatening event.

According to Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, EpiPen is the brand name of an auto-injectable device that distributes the medication epinephrine. Epinephrine is a life-saving drug that helps when a person is experiencing anaphylaxis — it works by halting the body's immune response, leading to increased blood pressure and decreased swelling, which in turn causes the muscles around the airways to relax. In 2015, an estimated 3.6 million Americans were prescribed an EpiPen (via Bustle). But can you get one without a prescription?

Be prepared to visit a doctor if you need an EpiPen

According to Drugs, it is not possible to purchase an EpiPen without a prescription in the US. Unfortunately, if you do need an EpiPen, you should be prepared to pay a premium price if you don't have health insurance. According to The Wall Street Journal, the manufacturer of the auto-injectable has increased its price by a whopping 548% since 2007. A pack of two EpiPens without insurance coverage could cost you over $600.

If you suspect you are severely allergic to a drug, a certain food, or an insect, make an appointment with an allergist for safe testing and an official diagnosis that confirms the risk of anaphylaxis, says Atlanta Allergy. In that case, your doctor will write you a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. If the cost of an EpiPen is prohibitive, there are several generic alternatives. Drugs also states that some schools keep an EpiPen in stock for emergency use. But if you have a serious allergy, your safest bet is to take the necessary steps to get a prescription for an EpiPen or similar device so you can have one on standby in the event of a serious allergic reaction.