Shortage of EpiPens for almost a year has left patients and their families frustrated and angry as they struggle to replenish their supplies to protect themselves and their loved ones from food allergies that could land them in emergency care. EpiPens are devices that deliver prescribed dose of epinephrine, which is a medicine to reduce severe allergic reactions to certain food items. This auto injection is popular and is a common choice in schools largely because teachers and other medical staff are trained to use these devices.
Parents of children that are allergic to foods and odors say that most school staff include administrators and teachers are comfortable using EpiPens and cannot comfortably use other devices to administer epinephrine when needed. This situation is very challenging to families with school going children as they live in constant fear as recently director of media relations of Pfizer Steve Danehy stated that despite their best efforts there are going to be further supply issues in forthcoming months. According to distributor Mylan of EpiPens the shortage is due to Pfizer subsidiary Meridian Medical Technologies that makes these devices.
With summer coming up the situation could get worse as parents stock up on refills for new school season when students are asked to bring extra injectors to their classrooms and school clinics for emergencies. Meridian had a long shutdown during winter for manufacturing upgrades along with equipment downtime that worsened the supply situation. Regretting the situation Danehy stated that EpiPen manufacturing and assembling process is complex due to sterile conditions that have to be maintained so they have to be very careful to ensure that quality is not compromised. Both distributor and manufacturer are working hard to maintain supplies and even FDA stressed that while there is certainly a shortage, products are available. During March 2017, Meridian had to voluntarily recall its products for defective parts and later during September that year it had received warnings from FDA for violation of good manufacturing practices.