Life-Saving EpiPen on back order at Sussex County pharmacies

Source: Advertiser News North

A number of pharmacies in the Sussex County area are reporting having difficulty getting EpiPen, devices that deliver the life-saving drug that severe allergy sufferers depend on in the event of a potentially fatal emergency.

According to a survey of 36 pharmacies in Northern New Jersey, 16 pharmacies said they had some version of the EpiPen, whether it be the brand name or generic, in stock, while 14 pharmacies said they did not have any EpiPen at the moment. Six pharmacies did not respond.

At West Milford Pharmacy & Gift on Union Valley Road, pharmacist Danny Gutkind said that the wholesale distributor they use only carries a few EpiPens at a time, so they usually order every day — “sometimes they have it, and sometimes they don’t.”

“What they’re basically doing is allocating, meaning they only have a certain amount at a time, I don’t know why, but there seems to be, unfortunately, a limited supply,” Gutkind adds. “If they’re having issues, it’s probably safe to assume that since they’re one of the big ones, that it’s a universal issue.”

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has determined there is a national shortage of epinephrine auto-injectors from two major manufacturers: Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., and authorized generic versions of both, and Impax Therapeutics, which makes an authorized generic version of Adrenaclick.

Despite these claims, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that Mylan has continued to report adequate supply of EpiPens in the U.S., and has not added EpiPen devices on its list of medical shortages.

Pfizer, which owns Mylan, also released a statement saying, “We are currently shipping product; however, supplies may vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. We understand how important this potentially life-saving product is to patients, and we are working closely with Mylan to monitor supply levels so patients have access to epinephrine auto injector products.”

However, pharmacist Crystal Clark of the Weis Markets Pharmacy in Newton says that both the EpiPen brand name drug and the generic were both on back order and listed as having “delays in production.” Clark adds, “It could be (due to its being) allergy season — we see an influx of EpiPen prescriptions for bees and other severe allergies.”

All three pharmacies in Sparta had EpiPen or the generics in stock, as well as pharmacies in Franklin, Sussex, Oak Ridge and Stanhope. Some pharmacies reported having only EpiPen Jr. available, which is a lower dose for young children.

The few alternative options to EpiPen include Adrenaclick and its generic version, which are available at CVS pharmacies for about $100, 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 for EpiPen. “It all depends on how the doctor writes the prescription,” Clark says.

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