Lifesaving EpiPen on backorder at local pharmacies

| 17 May 2018 | 10:14

— A number of pharmacies in the Pike County area are reporting having difficulty getting EpiPen, devices that deliver the lifesaving drug severe allergy sufferers depend on in the event of a potentially fatal emergency.
According to a survey of 12 pharmacies in Pike County and nearby Port Jervis, N.Y., only three pharmacies said they had some version of the EpiPen, whether it be the brand name or generic, in stock, while nine pharmacies said they did not have any EpiPen at the moment.
“I just double-checked on my ordering site to see if they’re available yet, and they’re still, at this point, they are completely unavailable, at least through who we order from,” said Jessica Abbott, the pharmacy manager at the Rite Aid (now Walgreens) on West Harford Street in Milford.
“There are a couple different distributors that the pharmacies locally use,” Abbott said, “and as far as I know, they are all out of stock — brand name and generic, unfortunately.”
Abbott said the brand name EpiPen may be available the end of May, but there was no release date listed for the generics.
National shortagePike County isn’t the only place dealing with a shortage. Americans across the country are having trouble finding EpiPen products, with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration adding the authorized generic version of Mylan’s EpiPen, as well as Impax Laboratories’ Adrenaclick to their drug shortage list last week.
According to the FDA, the shortage is due to manufacturing delays.
“There are intermittent supply constraints due to manufacturing delays from the manufacturing partner, Meridian Medical Technologies, a Pfizer company,” the FDA said last week. “Mylan is receiving continual supply from MMT and expediting shipment to wholesalers upon receipt. Supply levels may vary across wholesalers and pharmacies.
“Patients who are experiencing difficulty accessing product should contact Mylan Customer Relations at 800-796-9526 for assistance in locating alternative pharmacies.”
More than 400 patients in 45 states reported difficulty filling prescriptions for EpiPen and other epinephrine autoinjectors since May 2, according to patient-advocacy group Food Allergy Research & Education.
Both Mylan and Pfizer also released statements acknowledging the problem, saying that they are “working tirelessly to increase production as rapidly as possible.”
BackorderedWhile the national shortage continues, many local pharmacies are waiting for EpiPen shipments. At the Price Chopper Pharmacy in Matamoras, Pharmacist Cristina Seidel said that they are all out of epinephrine autoinjectors.
“We’re not able to get it right now — it’s a manufacturer backorder on both brand and generic,” Seidel said. “Right now, our wholesaler does not have any in stock.”
As of last week, the three pharmacies that had EpiPen products were the CVS Pharmacy in Hawley, Lord’s Valley Village Pharmacy on Route 739, and the Walmart Pharmacy in Milford, which said they had a generic product only.
All of the other pharmacies surveyed — including two in Milford, one in Hawley, one in Dingmans Ferry, one in Matamoras, and all four in Port Jervis — said they were out of EpiPen products.
EpiPen prices ranged from $500 to over $700. The generic EpiPen ranged in price from $100 to $400.
The few alternative options to EpiPen include Adrenaclick, which is often cheaper than EpiPen but is also on the FDA shortage list, as well as Auvi-Q, an often times much more expensive option costing several thousand dollars.
But these options will not help patients trying to fill prescriptions specifically for EpiPen. The FDA urges patients to talk to their doctor or pharmacist before getting an alternative device than their usual prescription, since injection methods and epinephrine dosages may be different.