PEORIA — Looking for an EpiPen?
The Medi-Park Pharmacy at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center has a few.
“We do have some in stock — we just haven’t used a lot of it this year,” said Ryan Ossola, a certified pharmacy technician who does the ordering for Medi-Park Pharmacy.
CVS Pharmacy might also be a good bet.
“We have been able to secure small allocations of the various types of epinephrine auto-injectors and are continuing to supply stores as needed using our current inventory,” said Amy Lanctot, senior manager of public relations for CVS. Individual stores might be temporarily out, however. Customers should call ahead to ensure the pharmacy has what they need, she said.
The next stop should be Walgreens.
“While this continues to be a fluid situation, a majority of our stores have Epipen products available at this time,” said Allison Mack, media relations manager for Walgreens. “If a particular store is currently out of stock, other locations may have it available.”
The EpiPen and the generic version of the EpiPen are on back order at pharmacies all over the country, including the Alwan pharmacies in Peoria and Morton.
“It looks like, between the two pharmacies, we could use about five of them right now,” said owner and pharmacist Mike Minesinger. Alwan Pharmacy has been turning EpiPen customers away.
“We had one person who was a little stressed out about it, but I think most people have been OK about it, understanding there is a shortage out there,” said Minesinger. Many people who need the EpiPen keep the device in multiple places — home and school, for instance. So they may have a spare to help them get through the shortage, he said.
The EpiPen is a type of epinephrine auto-injector used to counteract extreme allergic reactions. Produced by Mylan, the EpiPen is in short supply because of manufacturing delays from a Pfizer-owned company that makes the devices.
While Mylan hasn’t fully explained what's causing the shortage, a Pfizer spokesman said changes in the manufacturing process implemented in response to a warning letter issued by the FDA in September are partly responsible for the EpiPen supply issues, according to a Chicago Tribune story published last week.
After an inspection of a facility where EpiPens are made, Pfizer was cited with “significant violations” of good manufacturing practice requirements, including a failure to thoroughly investigate problems with product failure associated with patient deaths.
Mylan is advising people to call its customer relations number at (800) 796-9526 to find pharmacies that have the device.
The shortage comes at a bad time — this is the busy season for EpiPen sales, said Minesinger.
“There’s bees out there now. You don’t worry about your kid getting stung by a bee until it’s nice outside,” he said.
Ossola said the Medi-Park Pharmacy sells the most EpiPens midsummer through fall, when kids are going back to school. He’s hoping the pharmacy's supply will last until the end of the month, when he’s been told the shortage will end.
For people looking for alternatives, the AUVI-Q epinephrine auto-injector is available at Alwan pharmacies. It actually talks to users, so even young children will be able to administer a dose, said Minesinger. The manufactuers have a special offer for people whose insurance doesn't cover the device.
"AUVI-Q is available at $0 out of pocket for all commercially insured patients, including those with high deductible plans, who acquire AUVI-Q through the direct delivery service," said Mark Herzog, Vice President of Corporate Affairs with Kaleo, the company that manufactures the device. For more information visit www.auvi-q.com/getting-auvi-q/.
Another alternative is a syringe and a vial of epinephrine.
“Thirty years ago there wasn’t an EpiPen, and that’s what people did,” said Minesinger. “It’s kind of scary.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.