Over 2.5 million Canadians rely on EpiPens to stop anaphylaxis symptoms. An average of 3,500 Canadians experience anaphylaxis shock each year, and of those about twelve Canadians will die. Many of those Canadians go into anaphylactic shock due to severe food allergies.
Pfizer Canada, the sole producer of EpiPens in Canada, has advised Canadians they are experiencing supply shortages of:
- EpiPen 0.3 mg dose, and
- EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg dose
Pfizer anticipates resolving the 0.3 mg shortage by August 31st. The 0.15 mg dose may be in stock at your local pharmacy but is being rationed by pharmacists.
As EpiPens are a life-saving device, Health Canada is asking that Canadians be mindful when requesting additional EpiPens during this shortage period.
Pfizer and Health Canada have directed pharmacists to ration their current EpiPen stock by only dispensing one injector per person.
Options for EpiPen users
Health Canada, Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Pharmacists Association recommend the following:
- Check your EpiPen to see when it expires (the device expiry date applies to the last day of the month, if your device expires in August, it remains valid until August 31).
- If it has expired, speak to your health-care provider or pharmacist to get a new one before it runs out.
- If it has not expired, hold off on purchasing new EpiPens or stockpiling until the shortage is resolved so that the limited stock will go to people who need it the most.
- If the EpiPen has expired, and you or your child have an anaphylactic reaction, use it anyway and call 911.
Why an EpiPen shortage in Canada?
Currently, Pfizer is the sole provider of EpiPens in Canada. Health Canada has approved similar medications from other companies. To date, those companies have chosen not to start manufacturing in Canada.
Over the past year, Canadians have had additional deficiencies of EpiPens. For allergy sufferers, the shortages have gone from feeling like an inconvenience to a severe worry.
Food Allergy Canada, a nationally registered charity is committed to educating, supporting, and advocating for the more than 2.6 million Canadians with food allergies. Food Allergy Canada is working with Health Canada to enforce better transparency on the issue and to promote easier access to epinephrine, the life-saving drug found in EpiPens.
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