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Buying EpiPens in Europe?

Hello,
We will be traveling this summer to Paris, Munich, Vienna, Venice and Lauterbrunnen (please excuse any misspellings). We are traveling with a teenager who has multiple food allergies. She always carries an EpiPen, inhaler and antihistamine. However, I am trying to find out if any of you have purchased an EpiPen in any of the cities we are visiting? If so, did you need a Rx of was it over the counter? Was the price similar to the price in the US? We will be bring extra EpiPens, but you just never know when you may need a replacement.
Thanks for any advice and info.

Posted by
384 posts

Hello,

My wife had the misfortune last year of needing to use her EpiPen (for the first time) while we were on a Rick Steve's "Best of Paris" tour. We were worried we weren't going to be able to find a replacement, but we walked into a pharmacy (helpfully marked with a green cross, which means something totally different here in Seattle) and were able to buy one over the counter. It was about $75.

As always, when it comes to EpiPens, better to bring an extra and not need it than to need it and not have it.

-- Mike

Posted by
2222 posts

I haven't had to replace an Epipen over there but I will tell you that you can't get Benadryl or its generic equivalent in Italy. Not sure about other countries. Bring extra with you. Inhalers are available for much less money in some countries. I got my Ventolin for about 3 dollars and my Flovent for something like 20. I'm sure you know that's an enormous amount less than the US. These purchases were in Barcelona. It required a prescription in France.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks for the info. Mike, did your wife go to the hospital in Paris after having to use her EpiPen? If so, how was that experience?

Posted by
384 posts

Marty,

No, luckily we avoided the whole French hospital experience. I was fairly freaked out at the time because if the pen hadn't worked, the next step was an ambulance and bankruptcy. On our next trip, I'm buying insurance.

Posted by
488 posts

Hi - My doctor recommends that I travel with multiple pens so I get a couple of refills for double pen packs before I go on any trips and stock up on Benadryl.

I luckily haven't had to use it yet but I am very careful on how I order. I always ask the staff at the first hotel in each country to write my allergy information on a hotel business card in the local language in case of a language barrier. I also take a picture of it on my phone as a backup. Even when no language barrier, sometimes food allergies are not always taken seriously. When discussing with waitstaff who don't seem to understand, the best thing was putting my hands to my throat when describing my allergy. That often changes the attitude toward my allergy quickly and politely. In Thailand, that usually brought out the chef to discuss what I could have and that no contaminated utensils would be used.

Posted by
1 posts

I'm an American expat who lives and works in France. We're now on the national healthcare plan but, before we got our cards, we were just paying (well - we were on the plan but had to send in receipts for reimbursement). Our daughter got some mystery illness and we had to take her to the ER - the cost: about $90.

If you are sick in France go to the doctor. If it is an emergency go to the emergency room! The total charge is likely to be less than the co-pay for a US hospital and the care is top-notch. There is also a 24-hour service that will send a doctor for a house call that costs about €90.

Your tour guides should have told you that, or the people who run a hotel (though they'd probably take it for granted). Even without insurance you are extremely unlikely to run up much of a bill visiting a French emergency room: the system is just not set up like the US. An uninsured visit to a doctor will cost about €35-55 - not much more than a co-payment. An uninsured visit to an ER won't be much more. You definitely won't go bankrupt and you definitely will be taken care of.

Posted by
672 posts

I have no experience with EpiPens, but want to address your concerns about needing medical care. While we were in Arles, France several years ago, my husband was taken to the hospital by ambulance and spent most of the night in the ER. When he was released, I asked where I should pay and I was told they would bill us. A month or two later, we got the bill in the mail. It was around €132, which included everything. We submitted the bill to our insurer (Kaiser) and they paid it - probably with a sigh of relief, because the cost would have been many times over that in the US. Our experiences with medical care in Europe have been nothing but positive and always a huge bargain compared to the US.

Posted by
13299 posts

My husband just read in the news that the price of EpiPens is going up drastically in the US. You might want to buy extras in France if they are available there.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you need a replacement EpiPen, remember to bring the empty one to the pharmacist, so he can give you the correct dosage.
Anaphylactic shock in French is "Oedeme de Quinck", just for reference.

You can Google translation cards for food and other allergies, download and bring with you.
Many will have photos, so easier for waiters to understand.

Posted by
8675 posts

Out of curiosity, I searched the price in France. It was 40 euro for one and 75 for the double pack.

Posted by
2222 posts

@Bets - shoot, I wish I'd picked one up this year in France. I bought my inhalers at a fraction of the cost in Spain but I never thought the EpiPen price could go so high. I'm going to give it a try in Germany in January and see how I fare.

Posted by
1822 posts

It's hard to read this thread and not make a political statement comparing health care systems in the US and europe.

Posted by
5669 posts

Yes, Richard, resisting mightily. But clearly, if you need an Epi Pen it is better for your budget to stock up in Europe rather than carry an overload from here. This forum often reminds travelers that you don't have to pack everything for every emergency. You can usually just buy it if you need it. (And I am not suggesting traveling without an epipen, just not over-stocking up for the trip.)

Pam