CHICAGO (CBS) — As the EpiPen shortage approaches the one-year mark, more and more pharmacies don’t have any supply of the life-saving drug. That’s leaving parents of children with allergies worried about what to do.
Five-year-old Ava Page is healthy and happy, but she suffers from food allergies.
“She has a very severe reaction whenever she has an exposure,” said her mother, Stephanie Page.
That’s why Stephanie makes sure there are always EpiPens wherever Ava goes.
When she recently noticed the one in her purse expired in January, she got a new prescription, but when she called the pharmacy, she was told no one has EpiPens.
She started to panic as she called more pharmacies and was told the same thing.
“I just can’t believe that something so life-saving and vital, they just don’t have it,” Stephanie said.
For now Stephanie has expired EpiPens, and that scares her.
“I have no idea if she were to have a reaction, and I gave her an expired EpiPen, I don’t know if it would work or not,” she said.
She’s not alone. Dr. Todd Ochs, with Ravenswood Pediatrics, said the ongoing EpiPen shortage is the top concern for many of his patients’ parents.
“If a child has severe allergies where they might die if they eat peanuts, for instance, if the parent doesn’t have an EpiPen or the generic EpiPen, the child could die,” he said.
Because the medicine is so vital and in such short supply, the FDA extended expiration dates on many EpiPens.
“Over time they lose potency,” Ochs said. “Now, if the fluid in the EpiPen is cloudy, you’re not supposed to use it, but if it’s clear, use it.”
Stephanie said that’s what she’ll do if she can’t get a new EpiPen, but she can’t believe more isn’t being done to address the shortage.
“This is something that is critical,” she said. “That is literally the difference between life and death for my kid and a lot of other kids.”
A representative for Pfizer, the company that manufactures the EpiPen for Mylan, said they “expect improvements in patient access through the first half of 2019.”