In this day and age, it’s positively unbelievable to imagine that lives could be cut short by a failure of pharma to properly manufacture a life-saving product… and do so in sufficient quantities.
And if you or someone in your family has a life-threatening allergy, you might be wondering what your options are right now.
Reported malfunctions and shortages of EpiPens — as well as of a somewhat cheaper generic version of these obscenely priced devices — are putting those with acute food allergies in significant jeopardy.
So, if keeping an EpiPen nearby is common practice for your family, here are the vital facts you need to know – plus a way you can give drugmakers Mylan and Pfizer a dose of their own medicine.
Finding a work-around
If you’re making billions manufacturing a much-needed medical device, you would think doing it correctly wouldn’t even be an issue!
Yet, Mylan and its EpiPen partner Pfizer, which were under fire last year for a 500 percent price hike on the device, can’t even seem to get that straight.
Because even more disturbing than the cost increase of 2017 were the defective EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. devices that failed to properly deploy life-saving epinephrine. In fact, last year the FDA received over 200 reports about that problem, which resulted in seven fatalities and 35 people being rushed to the hospital.
That’s right, even after you shell out $600 bucks for an EpiPen two-pack, you still aren’t safe!
And on top of that, it appears that Mylan and Pfizer never even bothered to “take appropriate corrective actions” after learning of “multiple serious” EpiPen failures, the FDA told the drugmakers in a scathing letter last fall.
Apparently, nothing was done by these pharma giants to investigate what was going wrong until the FDA conducted an inspection.
Now, there’s more trouble brewing in the form of shortages in EpiPens and a competitive product called Adrenaclick. And the FDA claims that it doesn’t know the reason why these pricy epinephrine-delivery devices are suddenly subject to “intermittent supply constraints.”
Well, that’s certainly tells us a lot!
But EpiPen isn’t the only game in town. Actually, all of these devices utilize the exact same drug – epinephrine. The only differences are in how they dispense it! And that’s something you need to learn about before the confusion and stress of a life-threatening need strikes.
So, here are what experts advise EpiPen users do immediately:
#1 Take stock of your supply of injectors right now, including checking on their expiration dates. If you’re running short, start calling around to find a pharmacy that can fill an Rx for you.
#2 If you’ve recently filled a new prescription for one of these devices, check and see if the you’re familiar with the delivery method. Each brand is different — some have a cap that needs to be removed, while others may not be auto-injectors but require you to push in a plunger. As I said, this isn’t something you want to figure out during an emergency. Your pharmacist or doctor can help guide you through the directions beforehand.
#3 If you agree that Mylan and Pfizer don’t deserve to make one more cent of profit out of this, talk to your doctor about switching from EpiPen. By doing so, you’ll be sending a powerful message to these companies: When they cross the line of decency, we’ll take our business elsewhere!
Right now, the only device not said to be in short supply is one called Auvi-Q (auvi-q.com), which actually “talks” to you and lets you know when it’s injecting! According to Dr. James Baker, who heads the Food Allergy Research & Education group, it’s “different to use, but easy to learn.”
And in the event of an emergency, if all that’s available is an expired EpiPen, an ER physician at Lenox Hill Hospital says that it’s “not ideal,” but you can still use one “many years past its expiration date,” as the drug should retain around 80 to 90 percent of its potency.
As long as it isn’t discolored or cloudy, he added, “it’s safe to use.”
“There are spot shortages of EpiPens. What should you do?” Maggie Fox, May 9, 2018, NBC News, nbcnews.com