There's a nationwide shortage of EpiPens. Here's what to do if you need one and can't find one.
If you've ever worked a job with children, you know your first aid kit always has an EpiPen. EpiPens are essential for calming allergic reactions, and if you're having an allergic reaction, they can save your life. For that reason, millions of Americans with severe allergies carry EpiPens with them all the time.
Unfortunately, we don't have enough right now.
The nationwide shortage of EpiPens has become pretty extreme since mid-to-late August.
Rachel Hamasaki, the mother of a kindergartener with a severe nut allergy, says she called 34 pharmacies before finding one with EpiPens in stock -- and that one was 40 minutes away.
"I went to the pharmacy as I always do whenever I need an EpiPen," says Hamaski, " and they said, we have no EpiPens."
Dr. William T. Hark, an allergist in Richmond, Virginia, says a lot of his patients with serious health issues are deeply concerned without their medicine.
"We're getting a lot of phone calls from patients that are frustrated and scared because they're having difficulty finding the EpiPen," Dr. Hark said.
If you can't find an EpiPen, Dr. Hark advises patients try Auvi-Q, a similar medicine with the same life-saving epinephrine as EpiPens.
"They can't go without. This added frustration or hassle, they need to work with it," insists Dr. Hark, "And make sure they get the Epinephrine injector, whether it's an EpiPen or an Auvi-Q."
Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that produces EpiPens, is offering an emergency helpline to assist patients in finding an EpiPen in their area, as severe allergy sufferers await the end of the shortage. If you're experiencing an allergic reaction or if you have a severe allergy, the EpiPen locator helpline can be reached at 1-800-796-9526 to help you track down a device in your area.
Do you or a family member have a severe allergy? Share your thoughts on the shortage in the comments.