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EpiPen shortage brings concern for metro parent

Posted at 10:50 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 23:50:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A shortage of EpiPens across the country continues to raise concerns for parents, including for some here in the metro.

The auto-injector devices are used to treat allergic reactions and can help save lives during times of emergency.

As a mother of two daughters who both have food allergies, Emily Brown knows about the need to have EpiPens nearby.

“At every meal and celebration you’re reminded that your child has this condition,” she said. “It’s like everywhere you go there is a reminder.”

Some school districts across the country require that parents provide a supply of EpiPens if their child deals with food allergies.

However, a shortage this year has made it tough on Brown and other mothers and fathers.

Changes in the manufacturing of EpiPens have led to the shortage and the Federal Drug Administration has extended expiration dates on the auto-injectors to help with the situation.

“We’ve never had a problem getting them but this year, when we went to refill, it was very challenging,” Brown said. “Many families need one for the soccer team. They need one for the dance troupe.”

As a result of the shortage, Brown told 41 Action News that she was only able to send her daughter to school with one EpiPen at the start of the school year.

Normally, she likes to have two at the school: one in her daughter’s classroom and one in the nurse’s office.

“When seconds matter and minutes matter in a severe reaction, having two is important,” Brown said. “We decided we’re not going to keep it in the nurse’s office. We’re going to keep it in the classroom where my child is and then it’ll have to travel.”

According to statistics from the Food Allergy & Research group, one in 13 children have food allergies. 

With many families now dealing with the shortage, Dr. Neha Patel told 41 Action News that other options could help in the meantime.

“Although Epipen is on a shortage, there are generic epinephrines available as well as other brands,” she explained. 

Mylan, the pharmaceuticals company that produces EpiPens, responded to the shortage with this statement:

“Our manufacturing partner Meridian Medical Technologies, a Pfizer company, continues to experience interruptions in the production of EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors. Over the past few months, there has been intermittent supply of EpiPen at wholesalers and pharmacies. We are actively exploring several options with Pfizer that would help stabilize supply. We will continue to provide updates, including timing for resolution, as we receive them from Pfizer. We appreciate how important it is for individuals with life-threatening allergies to have access to epinephrine auto-injectors, and understand the challenges this situation continues to pose for patients. Pfizer is working hard to increase production and stabilize supplies, but until this occurs, supplies of EpiPen® 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors, and the authorized generic versions of these strengths, will continue to vary from pharmacy to pharmacy and may not always be available.”

As the shortage still brings concern, Emily Brown said she hoped more supplies could come over the next few months.

“As a mom impacted by food allergies and as a community member, that would be a sigh of relief,” she said.