EpiPen shortage leads to waiting lists at local pharmacies

The EpiPen shortage could get worse before it gets better, according to a local pediatrician.

Dr. Doreen Kiss is a pediatrician and the clinic chief at UW Medicine's Kent Des Moines Clinic.

"My advice would be don't wait until the last minute, try to renew your EpiPen and get on a wait list and get one as soon as possible," Dr. Kiss said.

She had parents frantic to fill prescriptions for EpiPens before school started. One parent was told her child could not start school until she had the EpiPen prescription filled.

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The doses expire each year. Dr. Kiss ended up having the pharmacy at Seattle Children's find two pens so the child could go to school. EpiPens are sold in pairs, as a second dose is often needed.

An EpiPen is a medical device for injecting a measured dose of epinephrine, most commonly used for treatment of anaphylaxis, a type of potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. EpiPens are often used in cases of reactions to foods, insect stings and medications.

There is a nationwide shortage of EpiPens and generic forms of the injectors. The FDA said several factors contributed to the shortage, including manufacturing issues and "pharmacy-level supply disruptions." Pfizer, who produces the EpiPen, said the limited supply is due to "supply of certain third-party components" used in manufacturing.

KIRO 7 found local pharmacies have waiting lists for patients. When a shipment comes in they call the patients to come pick them up.

The FDA extended the expiration date for certain lots of the adult dose of the EpiPen for four months. You can check the lot numbers for expired EpiPens here. Dr. Kiss says that means in December all of those pens that should have expired in August will need to be replaced. The pediatric dose of the EpiPen did not have the expiration dose extended.

"So anyone whose EpiPen expired in August now has a reprieve until the end of December. We're hoping that production in creases and there will be available EpiPens by January, but we could have another crunch, a similar situation in January," Dr. Kiss said.

At Bartell Drugs in Seattle pharmacist Cynthia Ly says they have waiting list for EpiPens. She says they got a shipment about a week and called patients to come pick them up.

Ly keeps a couple generic epinephrine injectors on hand in the pharmacy's first aid kit in case someone has a reaction to a flu shot. She's hopeful the company will catch up with demand.

"Mylan has let us know they're trying to make more medication by the end of 2018. So, hopefully by the time those extended lots are expired, that medication is readily available again," said Bartell Drug Pharmacist Cynthia Ly.

Dr. Kiss doesn't’t want her patients taking any chances and is warning them to check the dates on their EpiPens and to refill the prescription as soon as possible.