Category: Medications

Options During the Epinephrine Shortage

Of the medicines that you would hope that we would never run out of, epinephrine is probably on the top of the list for many people.

Unfortunately, many parents are still stuck dealing with shortages and delays of epinephrine injectors.

Why?

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that in a very small number of cases, some EpiPen® 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors, and their authorized generic versions, may not easily slide out of their carrier tube, which could delay or potentially prevent use of the device during an emergency.”

Dear Healthcare Provider Letter for Potential Label Defect of EpiPen Auto-Injectors and its Authorized Generic

For EpiPens, there was a problem with the labels on the injectors so that “in a very small number of cases, labels were not fully adhered to the surface of the auto-injector such that the device label may become stuck to the inside of the carrier tube.”

And for the Adrenaclick generic injectors, “Some lots of Epinephrine Injection auto-injector have passed all levels of inspection and met product specifications at the manufacturing facility, but have been found to contain particles upon further inspection.”

So both are now suffering from manufacturing delays after fixing these issues.

Luckily, most still have options for their kids with severe allergies.

Options During the Epinephrine Shortage

Can’t get your child’s prescription for epinephrine filled?

“Currently, EpiPen, EpiPen Jr and Adrenaclick remain in either a spot shortage or constrained supply.”

Alert – Epinephrine Shortage Update September 17, 2019

One of the first things to keep in mind is that the FDA has allowed for temporary extensions of expiration dates:

So check the NDC number and the original expiration date and see if you even need a refill yet.

The FDA has allowed for temporary extensions of expiration dates for some epinephrine injectors.

Next, know that many more versions of epinephrine are available than ever before!

If you can’t refill your child’s prescription because your pharmacy doesn’t have it, you might ask them which form of epinephrine they do have in stock, and then ask your pediatrician if you can use that version.

There are now six forms of epinephrine injectors available (with three that may be hard to find), including:

  • EpiPen, EpiPen Jr coupon – the auto-injector with the notorious reputation for the $670 retail price tag
  • Epinephrine injection (EpiPen, EpiPen Jr authorized generics) – coupon
  • Epineprhine injection (EpiPen, EpiPen Jr Teva manufactured generics) – coupon
  • Adrenaclick Adult, Child authorized genericcoupon – this is the epinephrine auto-injector that is available for $109.99 at CVS
  • SYMJEPI 0.3mg, 0.15mg – coupon – a new epinephrine pre-filled, ready-to-use device – not an auto-injector!
  • Auvi-Q – financial support – the epinephrine auto-injector that talks to you and has the notorious reputation for the $5,000 retail price tag

Whichever version you get, if you have commercial insurance without a high deductible, the coupon will likely cover your copay.

There are now six versions of epinephrine injectors available for children and adults with severe allergic reactions.
Can your pharmacy get you the Teva manufactured generic EpiPen or EpiPen, Jr?

And in a worst case scenario, if necessary, use an expired epinephrine injector, even if it is out of range of an extension, and seek immediate medical attention.

“If an in-date auto-injector is not available, it is better to use an expired auto-injector than to not give epinephrine.

Expired Epinephrine Can Still Save Lives

Still confused?

Hopefully you won’t be when you need to use your child’s epinephrine injector!

One very big issue with so many different types of epinephrine injectors is that their instructions for use are a little different.

“There are several different epinephrine auto-injectors available – Mylan EpiPen and Mylan Generic, Auvi-Q, and Adrenaclick; these auto-injectors have different steps for use.”

How to Use an Epinephrine Auto-Injector

We can also hope that once the shortages are resolved, a little competition will bring down the prices of all of these drugs, as even the generic EpiPens are at least $300!

More on Options During the Epinephrine Shortage

ADHD Medication List

Remember when we only had Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine to treat kids with ADHD?

Know how many medications there are now?

Are All of the ADHD Medications Very Different?

Although there are a lot of different ADHD medications to choose from now, including some non-stimulants, it is important to realize that most of the stimulants are basically just different formulations or derivatives of Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine.

In fact, in many cases, it isn’t the ingredient that is different, but rather the delivery system.

Are your kids taking a short acting stimulant, that only lasts four or five hours? Or are they taking an extended release ADHD medication, that might last 8 to 16 hours? And if taking an extended release stimulant, are they simply taking one that mimics taking a short acting drug twice a day, releasing half of the medication immediately and another half 5 to 6 hours later? Or is it some other percentage on a longer, extended time release throughout the day, like the OROS time release system of brand name Concerta.

  • Adderall – mixed amphetamine salts – immediate release – lasts 4-6 hours – 5 to 30mg tablets
  • Adderall XR – mixed amphetamine salts – extended release with a 50/50 time release schedule – lasts 8-12 hours – 5 to 30mg capsules
  • ADHDnsia XR – methylphenidate – extended release
  • Adzenys ER – amphetamine – extended release liquid
  • Adzenys XR-ODT – amphetamine – extended release orally disintegrated tablets
  • Aptensio XR – extended release with a 40/60 time release schedule
  • Concerta – methylphenidate – extended release with a 22/78 time release schedule (OROS)
  • Cotempla XR-ODT – methylphenidate – extended release with a 30/70 time release schedule
  • Daytrana – methylphenidate patch – extended release
  • Dexedrine – dextroamphetamine – immediate release
  • Dyanavel XR – amphetamine – extended release
  • Evekeo – amphetamine – immediate release
  • Focalin – dexmethylphenidate – immediate release
  • Focalin XR – dexmethylphenidate – extended release with a 50/50 time release schedule (SODAS)
  • Jornay PM – methylphenidate – extended release
  • Metadate CD – methylphenidate – extended release with a 30/70 time release schedule
  • Metadate ER – methylphenidate – extended release with a 50/50 time release schedule
  • Methylin – methylphenidate – immediate release
  • Methylin ER – methylphenidate – extended release
  • Methylphenidate ER – methylphenidate – extended release
  • Mydayis – amphetamine salt combo – extended release
  • Quillichew ER – methylphenidate – extended release with a 30/70 time release schedule
  • Quillivant XR – methylphenidate – extended release with a 20/80 time release schedule
  • Vyvanse – lisdexamfetamine – extended release with a 50/50 time release schedule
  • Ritalin – methylphenidate – immediate release
  • Ritalin LA – methylphenidate – extended release with a 50/50 time release schedule (SODAS)
  • Ritalin SR – methylphenidate – extended release
  • Zenzedi – dextroamphetamine – immediate release

Do we really have over 25 different ADHD stimulants to choose from now?

Distinctions Without a Difference

Well, kind of.

For one thing, our choices of ADHD drugs to prescribe become much more limited once you realize how expensive these new medications can be, even if you try and use a drug coupon.

Price is a big difference on this ADHD medication list.
Price is a big difference on this ADHD medication list.

And again, our choices aren’t as big once you realize that most are really just different formulations or derivatives of Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine.

Can’t afford a newer ADHD medication for your child? Understand that many of these newer medications don’t actually offer all of that much benefit over older, less expensive medications.

Do you really need a liquid, chewable or ODT medication when most ADHD extended release capsules can be opened and sprinkled on food?

More on ADHD Medication List

What to Know About Xofluza for the Flu

Most people don’t understand that we have limited options to treat folks with the flu.

They still think that Tamiflu is some kind of wonder drug.

It isn’t. At best, if you take it within 48 hours of the start of your flu symptoms, you might “shorten the duration of fever and illness symptoms, and may reduce the risk of complications from influenza.”

Other flu drugs aren’t that much better, which is why they are typically reserved for those who are considered at high risk for flu complications.

What to Know About Xofluza for the Flu

That’s why many of us welcomed news of a new flu drug – Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil).

“This is the first new antiviral flu treatment with a novel mechanism of action approved by the FDA in nearly 20 years. With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical. This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option.”

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., FDA Commissioner

Unfortunately, while it has a new mechanism to treat the flu, there are plenty of reasons to not get too excited about Xofluza, despite what the headlines might be telling you:

  • the clinical benefit seems similar to Tamiflu
  • the two studies that were used to get Xofluza approved only looked at folks with mild to moderate flu symptoms (those with severe flu symptoms were excluded) and only looked at folks without complex medical problems, so we don’t know if it reduces hospitalizations, flu complications, or deaths from flu
  • flu virus strains might be able to mutate and develop resistance to Xofluza, although it is not clear if these strains could then be passed to others
  • the single dose treatment is only approved for adults and kids who are at least 12 years old
  • at $120 to $150, it is more expensive than generic Tamiflu

Still, if it works just as well as Tamiflu, but really does have fewer side effects, then that is a good thing, especially if it isn’t overused.

“The significant reduction in influenza viral replication with baloxavir treatment suggests the potential for reducing influenza virus spread to close contacts and should be studied through randomized, controlled trials in households and during institutional influenza outbreaks such as in longterm care facilities.”

Timothy M. Uyeki, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P. on A Step Forward in the Treatment of Influenza

Could Xofluza make you less contagious to others?

That would be a good way to control outbreaks.

Why isn’t it approved for younger kids? The pediatric studies haven’t been completed yet, but among the postmarketing studies that the FDA are requiring are in infants, children between the ages of 12 months to less than 12 years, and the final report of a pediatric study from Japan.

Other postmarketing studies of Xofluza will include hospitalized patients, the use of Xofluza as post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent influenza in household contacts of an index case, and to monitor resistance.

Are you excited about Xofluza?
Are you excited about Xofluza?

Should folks be excited about Xofluza? While it is certainly nice to have an alternative to Tamiflu, an alternative that worked a lot better would have really gotten most of us excited.

Right now we’ll settle for folks only using anti-viral flu medications, whether it is Tamiflu, Relenza, or Xofluza, when they are truly necessary – for high risk children and adults.

Remember, not everyone with the flu needs these medications.

And they are certainly not a substitute for a flu vaccine, unless you have a true medical contraindication to getting vaccinated.

More on Xofluza

What Is the Evidence for CBD Oil?

Are you wondering if your kids should be taking CBD oil?

That’s probably not a question you would be thinking of asking just a few years ago, but now that CBD products are everywhere, with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, and claims that it can treat everything from seizures and anxiety to cancer, you might be thinking you need to jump on this new fad.

What Is CBD Oil?

Many folks are likely skeptical when they hear about all of the benefits of CBD oil.

This is the stuff that is extracted from marijuana plants, right?

How is it even legal to sell CBD oil or gummies infused with CBD?

To understand that, you have to understand that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is the part of the marijuana plant that doesn’t get you high. That comes from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

And many of the products you see with CBD oil that is sold over-the-counter aren’t even derived from marijuana, but instead come from hemp plants.

Labeling something as hemp doesn’t necessarily make it legal though. Regulators in Ohio, for example, recently announced that CBD oil derived from hemp is illegal and that the only legal CBD oil will be dispensed in state-licensed dispensaries.

What Is the Evidence for CBD Oil?

There is definitely evidence that CBD oil can have beneficial effects in some medical conditions.

Except for treating some types of resistant seizures, there is no good evidence that CBD oil has all of these other benefits.
Except for treating some types of resistant seizures, there is no good evidence that CBD oil has all of these other benefits.

In fact, the FDA recently approved Epidiolex oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral solution of oil-based CBD that is extracted from marijuana plants.

What other medical conditions?

While it is not approved to treat any other medical conditions, cannabidiol is being studied to treat people with ADHD, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Tourette syndrome, and substance use disorders.

Should You Try CBD Oil?

What does that mean right now if you have a child with anxiety or another disorder and you are interested in CBD oil?

Although it might be tempting to buy and try the CBD oil that you can find at your local health food store, remember that they aren’t the same thing as Epidiolex, the prescription version of CBD. When you buy an over-the-counter CBD product, you have no idea what dosage of CBD you are really getting.

Anyway, until further testing is done, you have no idea what dose to give your child with anxiety or any other disorder besides seizures anyway.

And like other drugs, CBD oil can have side effects.

So unless you can get in a clinical trial, you should likely wait and continue your current therapies.

But since Epidiolex is approved to treat certain seizures, can’t your doctor simply prescribe it off-label to treat other conditions, like anxiety, if they wanted to? While that does often happen for other medications, it is very unlikely to happen for Epidiolex, even after the rescheduling process is completed and it is no longer a Schedule I substance and can be prescribed in states where it is illegal to prescribe medical marijuana.

It is estimated that Epidiolex will cost over $30,000 a year.

More on the Evidence for CBD Oil

Have Questions About the First Generic Version of EpiPen?

Have you heard the news that the FDA has approved the first generic version of the EpiPen?

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first generic version of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) auto-injector for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions, including those that are life-threatening (anaphylaxis), in adults and pediatric patients who weigh more than 33 pounds.”

FDA Press Announcement on FDA approves first generic version of EpiPen

That’s likely surprising news to all of those folks who have been prescribing and using generic epinephrine injectors this past year.

Is This Really the First Generic Version of EpiPen?

Many remember that we all talk about EpiPens so much because their cost jumped from about $100 in 2006 to over $600 in recent years.

The current generic epinephrine injectors are authorized generics, so didn't need FDA approval.
The current generic epinephrine injectors are authorized generics, so didn’t need extra FDA approval.

That prompted Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen 2-Pak and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak, to come out with a half-price authorized generic version last year.

“An authorized generic is made under the brand name’s existing new drug application using the same formulation, process and manufacturing facilities that are used by the brand name manufacturer.”

An authorized generic Adrenaclick injector also became available for a cash price of $109.99 CVS pharmacies. Combined with a $50 coupon, that’s often your best deal on an epinephrine injector if you don’t have insurance.

How Much Will the First Generic Version of EpiPen Cost?

And now we have a true generic version of the EpiPen 2-Pak and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak, from Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

“The reduction in upfront research costs means that, although generic medicines have the same therapeutic effect as their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantially lower costs.”

FDA on Generic Drug Facts

Will it be cheaper than current EpiPens?

“When multiple generic companies market a single approved product, market competition typically results in prices about 85% less than the brand-name.”

FDA on Generic Drug Facts

It should be, but how much cheaper will it be?

“A company spokeswoman declined to say when it would be available, or how much it would cost.”

F.D.A. Approves Generic EpiPen That May Be Cheaper

While most folks would be happy with a $90 EpiPen and a tier 1 generic copay, I wouldn’t count on it. For one thing, we technically don’t have multiple generic EpiPens competing against the TEVA EpiPen yet.

And looking at drug prices of some of TEVA’s other medications, you can get a clue about their pricing plan:

  • Airduo generic (similar to Advair, but about 1/4 the price) – $98
  • Qvar (similar to Flovent) – $200
  • ProAir (albuterol inhaler) – $71
  • Budesonide Inhalation Suspension (generic Pulmicort Respules) – $176
  • Levalbuterol Inhalation Solution, USP (generic Xopenex) – $121
  • Clindamycin Phosphate and Tretinoin Gel (generic Ziana) – $600
  • Cefdinir oral suspension (generic Omnicef) – $45
  • Syprine (generic trientine hydrochloride) – $18,375

Their drugs typically ain’t cheap…

Will the first generic version of the EpiPen simply be a little cheaper than the authorized generic or can we expect TEVA to offer it at substantially lower cost?

What’s your guess?

More on the First Generic Version of EpiPen

Helping Kids Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise

Planning a cruise with your kids?

How do kids not get sea sick on cruises?
How do kids not get sea sick on cruises? Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

You’re not alone.

Cruises have become a popular family vacation.

Helping Kids Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise

Are you going to call your pediatrician about a prescription for some Scopolamine patches?

I’ll save you some time.

Scopolamine patches are not approved for young children or teens. They can be prescribed for adults.

Fortunately, most kids don’t have problems with sea sickness on large cruise ships.

And there are other options if they do, including:

  • Dramamine for Kids – chewable tablets (dimenhydrinate) that kids between the ages of 2 and 12 years can take every 6 to 8 hours
  • Dramamine – tablets (dimenhydrinate) for kids over age 12 that they can take every 4 to 6 hours
  • Dramamine All Day Less Drowsy – tablets (meclizine) for kids over age 12 that they can take once a day

It is also nice that Dramamine is over-the-counter, so you don’t even need a prescription. Just grab some before your trip, along with sunscreen, insect repellent, and whatever else you think you need.

Keep in mind that there are also motion sickness treatments to avoid, mostly because they don’t work. This includes the Sea Band acupressure wrist bands that you see everywhere.

What about ginger?

While most alternative treatments don’t live up to their hype, there are studies to suggest that taking ginger can help relieve and prevent sea sickness and other types of motion sickness.

You can even get Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals with ginger root for your kids.

“Remarkably fewer symptoms of nausea and vertigo were reported after ginger root ingestion, but the difference was not statistically significant.”

Grøntved  et al on Ginger root against seasickness. A controlled trial on the open sea

Will it work? Most of the studies about ginger and motion sickness have been small and can probably be explained by the placebo effect.

Also keep in mind that newer, non-sedating antihistamines that work for allergies, like Zytrec, Claritin, and Allegra, don’t work for motion sickness. Neither does Zofran.

Helping Kids Avoid Motion Sickness in a Car

An even more common problem than sea sickness seems to be motion sickness in the car. As with sea sickness, Dramamine can be an option for long car rides.

For some young children, even short car rides, like to the store or across town, can be a trigger for car sickness.

What can you do then?

You may have to try different things, but it may help to:

  • avoid letting your child read, watch movies, or play video games in the car
  • have her listen to music or audio books, etc.
  • avoid big meals right before traveling, but also don’t travel on an empty stomach
  • encourage her to look at things outside the car, in the distance, preferably toward the front of the car
  • wear sunglasses

If motion sickness continues to be a routine problem for your child, an evaluation by a Pediatric Neurologist might be helpful.

What to Know About Avoiding Sea Sickness

Sea sickness isn’t often a problem for kids on big cruise ships, but you do have some options to treat and prevent motion sickness, whether it is in a boat, plane, or car.

More on Avoiding Sea Sickness

Prescribe These Inexpensive Medications for Kids, Not Tho$e

The Auvi-Q epinephrine injector retails for over $2,500 each.
The Auvi-Q epinephrine injector retails for over $2,500 each, but it is recommended that folks have at least two!

Folks are no longer surprised when outrageous drug prices make the news.

Remember the $600 EpiPens?

We got less expensive alternatives after folks complained and there was a lot of media attention, but many other drugs are still expensive.

Did you know that there is a diaper rash cream on the market that costs over $600? What’s startling, is that the cream, Vusion, is simply made up of three ingredients that are available over the counter – miconazole (an antifungal drug), zinc oxide, and petroleum jelly.

There is also a pill for pinworms, Emverm, that costs $600!

Saving Money on Pediatric Prescriptions

There is one very easy way to save money on your next pediatric prescription.

That’s right, make sure your child really needs it.

No, that doesn’t mean not filling your pediatrician’s prescription, but it can mean simply asking if a prescription medication is really necessary the next time your kids get sick. Unfortunately, many conditions are over-treated, from ear and sinus infections to pink eye and reflux.

Also, when your child does need a prescription, instead of asking for a coupon, ask if a lower cost, generic alternative might be appropriate.

You can also:

  • make sure the medication is covered by your drug plan, if you have one
  • get a 90 day supply if it is a medication that your child uses long-term, like to control asthma
  • ask about optimizing your child’s dose so that they don’t need multiple pills, for example, taking one 30mg capsule is likely less expensive than taking two 15mg capsules each day
  • see if an alternative form of the same medication might be less expensive. For example, a tube of mupirocin (Bactroban) cream is a lot more expensive than a tube of mupirocin ointment, although both forms of the topical antibiotic can be used in the same situations. Similarly, ondansetron (Zofran) syrup is more expensive than ondansetron orally disintegrating tablets, which is often used when kids have nausea and vomiting.

To save money on prescriptions, you might also use a service like GoodRx, to search for the lowest prices at nearby pharmacies. Especially if you have a high deductible or if a medicine isn’t covered by your insurance, it can sometimes be cheaper to use GoodRx, or a similar service with discount cards, than to go through your insurance plan. And remember that some pharmacies, like at Walmart, offer many $4 generic drugs.

Lastly, ask your pediatrician for samples and go through the manufacturer’s patient assistance plan for help paying for your medicines.

Prescribe These Inexpensive Medications, Not Tho$e

Still can’t afford your child’s prescription?

Fortunately, there is almost always an alternative medication that is less expensive, but will work just as well, that you can ask your pediatrician about. It doesn’t do your child any good if your pediatrician prescribes a medication, but you don’t get it because you can’t afford it. Ask about an alternative instead.

In general, if you need a coupon to get the drug, you can expect that it is an expensive medication. And even if the coupon makes it affordable for you, remember that someone is still paying for it, and in the end, that’s likely going to be you in the form of higher insurance rates.

Will any of these alternatives work for your child?

 

Expensive Drug Less Expensive Alternative*
Vusion (diaper rashes) use Lotrimin + Triple Paste
Advair, Dulera, Symbicort (asthma) generic AirDuo1
Moxeza or Vigamox (pink eye) ofloxacin oph drops2
Auvi-Q (epineprine inj) generic Adrenaclick or EpiPen3
Emverm (pinworms) Reese’s Pinworm Medicine (OTC)
Omnaris, QNasl, Veramyst (allergies) generic Flonase (fluticasone propionate) or Nasacort (triamcinolone) (OTC)
Patanase (allergies) azelastine
 Suprax (UTI) trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or Cefdinir4
Suprax (ear infection) high dose amoxicillin or Augmentin or Cefdinir
Ciprodex, Cipro HC (ear drops) ofloxacin oph drops5
Vyvanse, Mydayis (ADHD) generic Adderall XR or Adderal6
Aptensio, Cotempla XR-ODT, Daytrana, QuilliChew ER & Quillivant XR (ADHD) generic Concerta or Ritalin6
EpiDuo, Ziana (acne) benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin
or Differin (OTC)
Solodyn, Doryx (acne) minocycline, doxycycline
Sklice, Ulesfia (lice) spinosad (Natroba) or an OTC treatment
Nexium (GERD) lansoprazole (Prevacid)7 OTC
Cutivate, Elocon, Topicort (eczema) triamcinolone 0.1% cream
 Clarinex (allergies) loratadine (Claritin)8 OTC
Xyzal (allergies) cetirizine (Zyrtec)8 OTC
levalbuterol (Xopenex) (asthma) albuterol8
Patanol, Pataday, Pazeo  (allergies) Zaditor9 (OTC)

*To be clear though, these aren’t direct brand name to generic equivalents. Most are less expensive alternative medications that many pediatricians use every day though. Many were once the primary treatment and were found to work well. They were eventually replaced by newer medications, which were thought to work better, even though there are rarely head-to-head studies that actually prove that they work better than older, now less expensive medicines.

  1. AirDuo – this is a generic preventative asthma inhaler, which like Advair, combines fluticasone propionate and salmeterol. The main downside? It can’t be used with a spacer.
  2. Before looking for lower cost antibiotic eye drops to treat pink eye, you should maybe reconsider the need to treat pink eye in the first place. Most experts now think that pink eye is usually a viral infection, and even when it is caused by a bacteria, unless it is severe, it will likely go away without treatment. Most importantly, keep in mind that according to the AAP, “exclusion is no longer required” for kids with pink eye if they are in daycare or school, which is often why many parents seek treatment in the first place.
  3. Epinephrine injectors are lifesaving medicines for kids with food allergies. They were one of the first medicines to expose how drug coupons helped drug prices soar (the $600 EpiPens), while parents got free medicines for their kids – at least if they had insurance and a co-pay to worry about. Those paying cash or who had a high deductible plan were stuck with high priced drugs. Less expensive epinephrine injectors are now available, but one of the most expensive medicines on our list is back – Auvi-Q. Although the manufacturer advertises that it is available for just $0 for commercially insured patients, each injector pack (comes with 2 injectors and a trainer) actually costs up to $2,500! And since it is recommended that kids have multiple injector packs to store in multiple places, the real price is at least $5,000.
  4. Suprax (cefixime) was once a popular antibiotic for UTIs, especially once it became generic. Then, because it was maybe not popular enough, they stopped making it. It came back though, but not with a generic price tag. Some push it as a better choice for kids with persistent ear infections, but keep in mind that when mentioned on the list of antibiotics in the AAP ear infection treatment guide, it is suggested that when multiple antibiotics have failed, “a course of clindamycin may be used, with or without an antibiotic that covers nontypeable H influenzae and M catarrhalis, such as cefdinir, cefixime, or cefuroxime.” There is likely no benefit to using Suprax by itself or over a less expensive antibiotic.
  5. Can you really use ofloxacin ophthalmic drops in a child’s ear? Yes, although it is an off-label treatment. You just can’t use otic (ear) drops in a child’s eyes. While eye drops are sterile, ear drops aren’t. And for some reason, eye drops are less expensive than ear drops.
  6. Most newer, once a day ADHD medicines are expensive. Some aren’t even covered on insurance plans. Generic medicines are going to be less expensive than newer brand name medicines and short acting stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, are the cheapest. Your child just has to take a repeat dose around lunch time.
  7. In many ways, we have come a long way in treating infants with reflux. Gone are the days of using medicines with dangerous side effects, like Propulsid (cisapride) and Reglan (Metoclopramide). Now, if they have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), they are usually treated with an antisecretory agent to reduce acid and pain, but not necessary reduce the amount of spitting up. This can include histamine H2 receptor antagonists, like Zantac (ranitidine), and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Before Nexium packets for delayed release oral suspension became available, we had Prevacid Solutabs, which are now available OTC. This would be an off-label treatment.
  8. Clarinex and Xyzal are new classes of medications that turn a drug made up of a racemic mixture (Claritin and Zyrtec) into a single enatiomer. Basically, these drugs are made up of two mirror images of themselves. The theory is that if you make a new drug with just one of those mirror images, then it will work better and cause less side effects. For the great majority of people, these new drugs just cost more. Xopenex was one of the first drugs to use this method, as it is just the R-enantiomer or isomer of albuterol = levalbuterol. Does it work better than albuterol? No. Some people do think that it has fewer side effects, so it might be worth a try if your child gets very jittery or gets an elevated heart rate when he takes albuterol.
  9. Why try an over-the-counter medicine when prescription medications are available? Many medicines that are now over-the-counter, from Allegra and Claritin to Flonase and Nasacort, used to only be available with a prescription. Like these and many more medications, Zaditor allergy eye drops was once a prescription drug. It is available for kids who are at least three years old and might be worth a try before you spend money on a more expensive allergy eye drop.

In general, just remember that the “latest and greatest” medication isn’t always the greatest. Sometimes it is just newer and more expensive. Don’t be afraid to ask about an alternative if it is too expensive.

What to Know About Saving Money on Pediatric Prescriptions

Medications can be expensive, but there are things you can do to try and save money the next time your kids get a prescription from their pediatrician.

More on Saving Money on Pediatric Prescriptions