Allergy experts address EpiPen shortage

Michael Blaiss
Michael S. Blaiss
Tonya Winders
Tonya A. Winders

The possible shortage of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr reported by NBC News and other mainstream media was worrisome but served as a reminder to plan ahead for food allergy-related emergencies, experts told Healio Family Medicine.

“It is always concerning when there is a shortage of a medical treatment, especially when there is one that is needed to treat a life-threatening condition like anaphylaxis,” Michael S. Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, executive medical director, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said in an interview.

“EpiPen should be carried at all times by patients with food allergies, insect allergies and other allergic disorders as you never know when you may need to use it. The patient can’t wait several days or weeks to get an EpiPen at the pharmacy,” he continued.

Tonya A. Winders, president and CEO of the Allergy & Asthma Network, agreed but also said the shortage is not cause for serious alarm.

“While this is concerning, it is important to note that we have received very few reports of limited access in the U.S. thus far and people should not panic,” she told Healio Family Medicine.

Mylan, the product’s distributor, confirmed yesterday on its website that the supply of its EpiPen and EpiPen Jr is “intermittent” but was expediting such deliveries to wholesalers as soon as it receives the auto-injectors.

 The reported shortage of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr reported by NBC News and other mainstream media was worrisome but served as a reminder to plan ahead for food allergy-related emergencies, experts told Healio Family Medicine.
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Winders encouraged providers and patients to check expiration dates of existing devices, and also to “plan ahead and secure refills.” On its website, Pfizer, which manufactures the product, urged prudence in refilling EpiPen prescriptions for the immediate future to ensure access to all.

Both Winders and Blaiss indicated that there are other epinephrine auto-injectors available should the shortage continue longer than expected or occur again in the future.

“The good news is that there are other auto-injectors on the market with the same exact dose of epinephrine as EpiPen. These include Auvi-Q and Generic Adrenaclick. There is no shortage of Auvi-Q devices in the United States, but there are limited supplies of Adrenaclick and Generic Adrenaclick,” Blaiss said.

“Providers should speak with their patients about these options and determine which one is preferred,” Winders said. “Training on the specific [epinephrine auto-injector] prescribed and received is critically important because in the midst of a severe allergic reaction it is important to be confident how to use the device on hand.”

Mylan also stated on its website that its commitment to customers’ health has not waivered.

“Our first priority is to ensure patients with a life-threatening allergy have access to epinephrine auto-injector products,” it said. “We encourage patients who are experiencing difficulty accessing product to contact Mylan Customer Relations at 800-796-9526 ... Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET ... for assistance in locating alternative pharmacies.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Blaiss reports no relevant financial disclosures. Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine Winders’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.

Michael Blaiss
Michael S. Blaiss
Tonya Winders
Tonya A. Winders

The possible shortage of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr reported by NBC News and other mainstream media was worrisome but served as a reminder to plan ahead for food allergy-related emergencies, experts told Healio Family Medicine.

“It is always concerning when there is a shortage of a medical treatment, especially when there is one that is needed to treat a life-threatening condition like anaphylaxis,” Michael S. Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, executive medical director, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said in an interview.

“EpiPen should be carried at all times by patients with food allergies, insect allergies and other allergic disorders as you never know when you may need to use it. The patient can’t wait several days or weeks to get an EpiPen at the pharmacy,” he continued.

Tonya A. Winders, president and CEO of the Allergy & Asthma Network, agreed but also said the shortage is not cause for serious alarm.

“While this is concerning, it is important to note that we have received very few reports of limited access in the U.S. thus far and people should not panic,” she told Healio Family Medicine.

Mylan, the product’s distributor, confirmed yesterday on its website that the supply of its EpiPen and EpiPen Jr is “intermittent” but was expediting such deliveries to wholesalers as soon as it receives the auto-injectors.

 The reported shortage of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr reported by NBC News and other mainstream media was worrisome but served as a reminder to plan ahead for food allergy-related emergencies, experts told Healio Family Medicine.
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Winders encouraged providers and patients to check expiration dates of existing devices, and also to “plan ahead and secure refills.” On its website, Pfizer, which manufactures the product, urged prudence in refilling EpiPen prescriptions for the immediate future to ensure access to all.

Both Winders and Blaiss indicated that there are other epinephrine auto-injectors available should the shortage continue longer than expected or occur again in the future.

“The good news is that there are other auto-injectors on the market with the same exact dose of epinephrine as EpiPen. These include Auvi-Q and Generic Adrenaclick. There is no shortage of Auvi-Q devices in the United States, but there are limited supplies of Adrenaclick and Generic Adrenaclick,” Blaiss said.

“Providers should speak with their patients about these options and determine which one is preferred,” Winders said. “Training on the specific [epinephrine auto-injector] prescribed and received is critically important because in the midst of a severe allergic reaction it is important to be confident how to use the device on hand.”

Mylan also stated on its website that its commitment to customers’ health has not waivered.

“Our first priority is to ensure patients with a life-threatening allergy have access to epinephrine auto-injector products,” it said. “We encourage patients who are experiencing difficulty accessing product to contact Mylan Customer Relations at 800-796-9526 ... Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET ... for assistance in locating alternative pharmacies.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Blaiss reports no relevant financial disclosures. Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine Winders’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.