As EpiPen Shortage Drags On, Alternatives Gain Ground

Only one epinephrine auto-injector, the EpiPen, is officially marketed in Canada – and its Canadian distributor warned in July that “we may experience supply constraints of the EpiPen 0.3 mg format over the coming months.”

Pfizer Canada said that “product is still routinely shipping to Canada,” from the Pfizer plant in Missouri that is experiencing manufacturing delays and causing EpiPen shortages in the U.S. and other countries. 

Pfizer Canada says that “out of abundance of caution,” it informed Health Canada that it has begun a system of “measured national allocation to wholesalers,” as the peak back-to-school refill period was arriving. (The EpiPen Jr is not currently part of the managed supply program.)

On July 19, the federal Health Canada agency issued a statement saying it anticipates “there will be adequate supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in Canada to meet the needs of Canadians.” It noted that Pfizer Canada expects the “measured allocation” to end by early October, 2019.

The agency said a special interim order, put in place during the 2018 Canadian EpiPen shortage, remains in effect and allows for the U.S. Auvi-Q auto-injector. “Health Canada will not hesitate to facilitate the import of additional international supply if needed,” the agency said. 

In light of a second summer and autumn of epinephrine allocation, the Canadian non-profit Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology are calling urgently for the adoption in Canada of a “National Food Allergy Action Plan.” 

Their work on this action plan began with the 2018 epinephrine shortage, Food Allergy Canada recently said: “We broadened the scope beyond access to epinephrine to look at all areas needed to improve the quality of life for Canadians impacted, and to reduce the incidence and risk of food allergy.

In an August 9, 2019 opinion article that ran in the Vancouver Sun, Food Allergy Canada and the CSACI wrote: 

“Our plan is informed by a similar action plan created in Australia and by specific best practices and research efforts in the U.K., U.S. and elsewhere. Among our specific proposals are a national awareness campaign to enhance understanding of food allergy; better access to accurate ingredient information and a safe eating strategy; supporting guidance for early introduction of allergenic foods; new investments in research; and greater access to epinephrine auto-injectors.”

The two organizations have lobbied in Ottawa and are reaching out to politicians to stress the urgent need during the Canadian federal election. 

If you live in Canada and have difficulty locating an EpiPen, Pfizer Canada says to contact its office at 1-877-EPIPEN1 (1-877-374-7361).

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