Alternatives To EpiPen

The pharmacist discusses what to do if you can't find an EpiPen and offers alternate product choices.

Question

I can't find Epi-Pens anywhere! What can I do!

Asked by Bill On May 15, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On May 18, 2018

EpiPen

EpiPen (Epinephrine) is an auto-injector dosage form of Epinephrine used to treat a life threatening allergic reaction.  In recent years, there have been shortages of the EpiPen brand by Mylan and other drug manufacturer versions of epinephrine.  At times, patients have struggled to find the needed, potentially life-saving drug.  Below are some ways a patient may be able to obtain the needed emergency drug, epinephrine.


Possible Solutions to EpiPen Shortage


Consider Other Manufacturers Or Generics

EpiPen (Epinephrine) is made by Mylan and is one manufacturer's version of the drug.  A different manufacturers's version of Epinephrine is Auvi-Q (Epinephrine) which is manufactured by Kaleo. Reports on EpiPen availability state that most pharmacies have Auvi-Q in stock.  Auvi-Q delivers a dose of epinephrine, just like EpiPen, but also provides audible instructions from the device. There are also generic Epinephrine auto-injectors made by Mylan and Lineage Therapeutics.


When calling pharmacies, make sure to ask if any of the generic drugs are available or if Auvi-Q is in stock.  It should be noted that while these drugs are all the same drug, the pharmacist may be required by law to get a new prescription for the version of the drug that is being dispensed.  It may not be permissible by law to just substitute a different manufacturer's version of epinephrine for the the EpiPen.  


Also, if your drug insurance plan has a formulary, the other epinephrine drugs may not be covered or on the drug formulary like EpiPen is.  Depending upon your plan design, one version of the drug may be preferred with other versions either not covered or covered at a higher price.  Contact your pharmacy benefit provider with any questions about drug coverage or formulary issues. 


Call Pharmacies Other Than the Large Pharmacies

While your first instinct is to call all your local, big area pharmacies, your best chance may be to try some of the smaller pharmacies.  Often there maybe pharmacies in the medical building of your doctor's office, local town or even hospital that may have stock.  Do not forget pharmacies at warehouse clubs also like Costco or Sam's Club.


Checking on-line at your pharmacy benefits provider website may give you a list of pharmacies that you are able to utilize for your prescriptions.  It is worth calling some of these smaller pharmacies since sometimes they may have different suppliers and different inventory than the large chain pharmacies. Plus, the volume at some of these pharmacies may be lower, giving you a greater chance that the pharmacy actually has the drug in stock.


Call The Drug Manufacturer    

The drug manufacturer may have some insight on where there might be inventory in your area.  Communicating directly with the drug manufacturer may give you some useful information on the current status of the drug shortage and where there may be available inventory.  It is worth a phone call to see what type of support is available from the manufacturer itself. Patients can reach Mylan at 800-796-9526.


Hang in there

This current shortage of EpiPen is considered an intermittent shortage.  Being persistent, yet patient is the best way to handle this shortage.  Call the pharmacies every couple of days, or every day, to check availability.  The drug is being supplied, it is just a matter of catching up with the demand.

 

Drug shortages of a potentially life saving drug, like EpiPen, are worrisome.  Using the above strategies may help you obtain the drug quicker.  

About the Pharmacist

Ms. Jennifer Hauder RPh

Jennifer Hauder is a registered pharmacist in the state of Illinois. She has over 10 years experience as a pharmacist in the retail and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) settings. She became a pharmacist due to her interest in healthcare and the opportunity to help others with their healthcare needs. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and two black labs Lucky and Charms.

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