Concern in Australia over shortage of lifesaving EpiPens

By on February 24, 2018

Concern in Australia over shortage of lifesaving EpiPens

Concern in Australia over shortage of lifesaving EpiPens

Charis Chang

It’s a drug that will literally save your life, but stocks in Australia have run out, with many fearing the consequences.

Photo: iStock

The shortage of a lifesaving medication is causing panic among parents and others with allergies.

For those who have severe food allergies, the only treatment once you have a reaction is to administer a shot of adrenaline, which can be done via an autoinjector.

EpiPen is the only injector available in Australia but some pharmacists have been out of stock since before November last year.

So why can’t we get more EpiPens or other brands of autoinjectors in Australia?

What the Rising Cost of the EpiPen Means for Patients3:54

Mylan pharmaceutical company has raised the price of the EpiPen more than 400% over the last six years leaving parents scrambling to buy the device for children. National Children’s Hospital Dr. David Stuckus joins Lunch Break to discuss. Photo: AP


Mylan Australia, which supplies EpiPens, has blamed the shortage on a delay in supply from an overseas manufacturer.

Manufacturer Pfizer told it was working tirelessly to increase production and get shipments out as quickly as possible.

The Pfizer spokesman said the pharmaceutical company was “addressing component supply shortages and certain process changes” at its manufacturing facility.

For more stories like this head to

It’s not clear what these shortages are.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has also approved two other products for sale, AdrenaJect and Emerade, but neither of them are available.

A spokesman for Sun Pharma, the manufacturers of AdrenaJect, told that it was “seeking a substitute PBS listing” for the product and would “launch the product once it is approved”.

Listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) means the cost of the product will be subsidised by the government, making it cheaper for consumers. EpiPen is already listed on the PBS.

No response was received from Bausch & Lomb Australia, the manufacturer of Emerade.

A TGA spokeswoman said a third option, the Anapen, used to be available in Australia but was removed from its register on January 6, 2017 by its sponsor Link Medical Products.

“The product had not been supplied in Australia for some time,” she said.

A statement released by Australian distributors Link Healthcare in March 2015 about Anapen stated: “Since the updated Anapen device has been made available in Europe, the production of the registered Anapen in Australia and New Zealand has been discontinued which has resulted in an out-of-stock situation.”

A spokesman for makers of Anapen, Bioproject, confirmed demand in Europe was contributing to the lack of stock in Australia.

“Anapen is only marketed in European countries because we are coping with some manufacturing constraints in volume and until now not able to expand to new territories,” he said.

“We expect to open new facilities in order to grow the global capabilities by the end of this year and then try to contract with local distributors.”


New EpiPen stock is not expected to reach pharmacists until the end of this month but the TGA spokeswoman said Alphapharm (trading as Mylan) had informed it on February 14, that supply of EpiPen Junior was not affected and emergency supplies of the adult version could be provided.

“Patients and pharmacists can contact Alphapharm on 1800 274 276 for information on stock availability of EpiPen (adult) and EpiPen Junior,” she said.

Mylan has previously noted autoinjectors that expire in February would not be out of date until the end of the month, not the start of the month.

Those whose EpiPens have expired are being advised to hang on to them and use them in case of an emergency, as long as the liquid inside isn’t discoloured or contains sediment. The EpiPen has a clear window near the tip where you can check this.

“Whilst the use of an expired adrenaline autoinjector is not ideal, research suggests that recently expired devices retain potency,” the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) has advised.

“Therefore, if no other adrenaline autoinjector is available, use of a recently expired device to treat anaphylaxis is advised.”

Professor Katie Allen of the Murdoch Institute told ABC the devices would still be effective for several weeks after they expired.

She said there was also another product available that was not generally prescribed but was also possible to get from your doctor.

Read how to prevent and treat anaphylactic shock here.

Email: | Twitter: @charischang2

Know someone who would find this interesting? Share this article with them! Click the Facebook icon on the top of the page.


قالب وردپرس

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply