EpiPen short­age ex­pected this month

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Kyle Smylie mailphoto by Kyle Smylie

Canada is fac­ing a ‘life threat­en­ing’ EpiPen short­age with Health Canada say­ing the med­i­ca­tion may be­come un­avail­able to con­sumers in Au­gust.

The short­age is blamed on a man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sue with Pfizer Canada which af­fects the adult dosage 0.3 mg au­toin­jec­tors, which pro­vide a shot of ep­i­neph­rine to in­di­vid­u­als with se­vere al­ler­gies and are at risk of life threat­en­ing al­ler­gic re­ac­tions such as bee stings and peanuts.

Fre­son Bros phar­ma­cist Pat Doyle says it is an is­sue with the parts of the de­vice, not the avail­abil­ity of the med­i­ca­tion it­self.

“Ep­i­neph­rine is a com­mon drug, it’s used all the time in hos­pi­tals. It’s still avail­able but not to the layper­son,” he says.

Health Canada had is­sued a warn­ing of the short­age in Jan­uary this year, but on July 30 Pfizer had ad­vised that “while some phar­ma­cies may cur­rently have some in­ven­tory on-hand, it will likely be de­pleted in the com­ing days or weeks.”

The short­age af­fects both the adult dosage and to a lesser de­gree the youth dosage, EpiPen Jr, con­tin­ues to be sup­plied, though in­ven­tory for it is also dwin­dling.

There are cur­rently no other ep­i­neph­rine pen man­u­fac­tur­ers in Canada, caus­ing Cana­di­ans to be at the mercy of one com­pany. There are four other com­pa­nies who pro­duce equiv­a­lent prod­ucts, all of which have been ap­proved by Health Canada, though the man­u­fac­tur­ers have not en­tered the Cana­dian mar­ket.

Health Canada en­cour­ages in­di­vid­u­als not to stock­pile or hoard the med­i­ca­tion as it may be tak­ing away the med­i­ca­tion from some­one else who may need it.

The short­age has been de­scribed as ‘tem­po­rary’ by Health Canada, but the im­pli­ca­tions of the med­i­ca­tion po­ten­tially be­com­ing un­avail­able is con­cern­ing for lo­cal phar­ma­cists.

“If a per­son doesn’t have one and they get stung by a bee, they can die,” says River­side Value Drug Mart phar­ma­cist Ray Ain­scough. “It’s life threat­en­ing.”

While peo­ple are con­cerned about EpiPen avail­abil­ity, Doyle says it is not the only drug caus­ing con­cern.

“It is scary, but it’s not the only drug that is suf­fer­ing short­ages. We’re strug­gling with short­ages and man­u­fac­ture re­calls for the last while,” he says.

Both Ain­scough and Doyle rec­om­mend peo­ple un­able to pur­chase an EpiPen to keep an ex­pired one on them if pos­si­ble. Peo­ple can also keep an over-the-counter an­ti­his­tamine on their per­son in case of a re­ac­tion.

“It buys you time to get to the emer­gency room,” Ain­scough says.

Doyle says “in our day and age, there is still time to call 911 and get to the hos­pi­tal.”

Health Canada is en­cour­ag­ing Cana­di­ans to visit drugshort­ages­canada.ca or con­tact Pfizer Canada di­rectly for up-to-date in­for­ma­tion about the short­age and es­ti­mated re-sup­ply dates. Pa­tients with ques­tions or con­cerns about the short­age may also wish to speak to their health care pro­fes­sional.

If a per­son doesn’t have one and they get stung by a bee, they can die.” Ray Ain­scough Phar­ma­cist

An EpiPen short­age may hit Cana­di­ans in Au­gust which is cause for con­cern for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from se­vere al­ler­gies.

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