EpiPen Shipment Due Next Week Following National Month-Long Device Shortage
A month-long national shortage of the lifesaving EpiPen has left pharmacies in entire country towns and across large sections of cities without the anti-allergy device.
Manufacturing delays in the US are being blamed on the shortfall, affecting mainly the child version of the device, which has seen the manufacturer Mylan Australia rationing the supply of stocks to avoid a national sellout.
The next shipment is due to arrive early next week.
An EpiPen injects the drug adrenaline to negate the symptoms of a severe allergic anaphylaxis reaction, such as swelling and breathing difficulties.
More than 70,000 Australians are prescribed EpiPens.
A spokeswoman for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said members had not raised the issue as a concern.
A Melbourne mother, who did not want to be identified, told the Herald Sun that every pharmacy they tried as they searched for a replacement for her daughter’s device in Bayside suburbs had run of stock for the past month.
“It’s a life saving drug,” she said.
“It’s the front line of defence. Like my pharmacist said to me; ‘it’s criminal’.”
One Geelong family could not find an EpiPen in the town for their child and were told by a pharmacist the closest device was in Point Cook. But when they arrived at that chemist, they were told they too had no stock. The same family had no luck getting one in Bendigo.
But Victorians say they are also struggling to find adult devices.
Kerrie Brindell said she could not buy an EpiPen replacement at any of the four Southland shopping centre pharmacies last week.
She said she was resigned to taking her expired device with her when she went on a sailing holiday and to Cambodia this month.
“I was told by one pharmacist I could go back to my doctor and ask for ampoules of adrenaline. But they have to be kept refrigerated, and many people won’t know how to draw them up,” Ms Brindell said.
“We just have to hope no-one has an anaphylaxis attack and no-one dies because of this.”
Paramedics and hospitals are not affected as they use adrenaline to treat anaphylaxis.
It is not know whether the shortage is linked to an international recall earlier this year.
Four batches of the device taken off the shelf in Australia in March after they were found to contain a defective with a potential failure to activate.
Mylan Australia did not respond for comment before deadline.