Cigna dropping EpiPen coverage

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Twice now, April Schweitzer has had to whip out an EpiPen, jab the needle into her child's leg and inject the lifesaving epinephrine into their system.

One time it was for her son Alex who's allergic to dairy and peanuts; then another for her eldest Ruby who has an egg allergy.

"It's incredibly scary," said Schweitzer.

Now, the Cary mom is worried not only for what her kids may accidentally eat sending them into anaphylactic shock, but also health insurer Cigna dropping its coverage of the EpiPen.

Cigna will continue to cover Mylan's generic version of the EpiPen, but for parents like Schweitzer who have come to rely on the brand name, they're wary of other insurance companies that may follow Cigna's lead.

"If one company does it and they're able to make more money because of it why would other insurance companies not follow suit?" said Schweitzer who's covered under Blue Cross Blue Shield, which still covers the EpiPen.

Schweitzer and her husband have been buying the two-pack medicine for years, even when Mylan hiked the price more than 400-percent last year to over $600.

"The kids have one on them. I have one in my purse. I keep one at home," she said. "So I like to have three sets."

The cost adds up. Schweitzer figures her family has spent thousands of dollars' worth since Ruby was diagnosed at 6 months old - a necessary expense.

"And that's with my copay which is reasonable copay," she said. "I know it isn't for many people."

Cigna's announcement was quickly followed Thursday by CVS Health announcing it is now offering a low-cost epinephrine auto-injector that rivals the EpiPen, in the authorized generic for Adrenaclick, manufactured by Impax Laboratories.

The generic of Adrenaclick is now available at all CVS pharmacy locations for a cash price of $109.99.

While one CVS pharmacist tells Eyewitness News there is no difference in the medicine or absorption rates of the EpiPen versus the generic option now offered at CVS, Schweitzer said it's a change she isn't willing to make, despite the potential savings.

"It's life or death for my kids so I want to make sure that I have what I know is safest and best," she said.

CVS urges parents and patients interested in making the switch to generic, to first check with their prescriber.

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