Health Canada Issues Advisory on EpiPen Shortage

Health Canada Issues Advisory on EpiPen Shortage | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Almost 3 million Canadians suffer from food allergies. An allergic response can be mild – such as itching, a rash and hives – to much more severe – including going into anaphylaxis.

While many Canadians find relief from allergies by taking over-the-counter medications, such as Benadryl or Reactine, the only way to reverse an allergic reaction for others is to take epinephrine – or use what’s commonly known as EpiPen, an auto-injector that releases a specific dose of epinephrine into the body. Using epinephrine (or an EpiPen) can be a live-saving measure. The most common allergens requiring the use of epinephrine in both children and adults include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Peanuts (and other nuts)
• Shellfish
• Eggs
• Milk

Currently, Pfizer Canada says the shortage only applies to the 0.3mg format of EpiPen, and is the result of what they’re calling a manufacturing disruption. The 0.15mg format, EpiPen Jr., which is designed for children, is unaffected by the shortage. The shortage also does not apply to the United States.

Unfortunately, because of this shortage, Pfizer Canada says there will be a period of 2 to 4 weeks without any inventory, and that the shortage likely won’t be fully resolved until the end of February or into the beginning of March. This also means that individuals looking to get or renew an EpiPen prescription may run into trouble. As such, Pfizer Canada is asking pharmacies to keep an eye on their supply, as there are currently no alternative treatment options to EpiPens on the market.

If you have an EpiPen but it is close to its expiry date, Pfizer Canada says that EpiPens don’t expire until the last day of the month, meaning they’re still safe to use. If your EpiPen is past its expiry date, Pfizer Canada says individuals can also still use their epinephrine auto-injectors in emergency situations; and, as always, you should call 911 in the event that you need to use your EpiPen so that you can be monitored by medical personnel, as there’s a possibility that your allergic reaction could return.

For more information on this advisory, visit Health Canada’s website at healthycanadians.gc.ca or contact your local pharmacy.