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Consumer Reports: EpiPen shortage

Posted at 4:00 AM, Sep 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-02 09:33:20-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - As Nicole Gonzalez knows, sending a child with a serious allergies back to school is stressful.

“It’s a nerve racking, we made it through kindergarten," says Gonzalez. "You can never let your guard down.”

Adding to that worry, a nationwide shortage of EpiPens.

“The EpiPen, I fill it when I can, it’s a 50-50 shot when I go to the pharmacy if they have them. There’s just such a shortage," says Gonzalez.

This can be frustrating, and frightening for those who need this life saving drug in an emergency.

“There are actually a lot of new options when shopping for an epinephrine injector and in fact, some might be more easily available or less expensive than a traditional EpiPens," says Consumer Reports Health and Medicine Investigative Reporter, Lisa Gill.

One option is generic Adrenaclick, which is an auto-injector similar to EpiPen, though to use it you must remove two caps instead of one. The full line of the talking epinephrine auto-injector,Auvi-Q, is now available at Walgreens at no cost to consumers who have commercial insurance. Another epinephrine option that just came to market called Symjepi. It’s a pre-filled syringe, not an auto-injector like the others, so instead, users manually inject themselves.

"Given that inventory of EpiPens and other epinephrine injectors is so spotty, give yourself greater flexibility by asking your healthcare provider for a prescription that doesn’t specify a brand name," says Gill. "And that way your pharmacist can give you whatever is on hand.”

And because store inventories vary, call ahead to make sure your pharmacy has the epinephrine injector you want. To avoid potentially deadly mistakes or injuries, Consumer Reports strongly recommends asking your doctor or pharmacist for a training with your new device. Any epinephrine injector could save your life in an emergency.

All of the products mentioned in this story have manufacturer coupons or other deals that can lower your costs. And Consumer Reports says no matter the drug, it’s always a good idea to ask for the pharmacist for lowest possible price to make sure you’re getting every available discount.