EpiPen shortage keeps kids out of school

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EpiPen shortage keeps kids out of school

October 9, 2018

While most parents were able to find the needed EpiPens to enroll their kids in school this fall, the scramble may return in January. 

A mother called up Dr. Doreen Kiss  at UW Medicine's Kent-Des Moines Clinic, and asked for her help. A local school was refusing to allow her first-grader into class, unless the family provided two EpiPens to be on hand for emergency treatment of the child's severe allergies.

After two hours on the phone, Kiss resolved the issue, but with this caveat: the scramble may return in January. Similar situations played out in the Seattle area this fall as parents were finding that, even with a doctor’s prescription, EpiPens were difficult or impossible to obtain in south King County just before the school year started. Local pharmacies that had them in stock would distribute only one per patient.

The situation abated somewhat in late August after the FDA announced that EpiPens that had passed their expiration dates could still be used. (Although this does not apply to EpiPen Jr.) The FDA also approved a generic form of the injector. The problem is not a lack of epinephrine, but a shortage of injector cartridges. Unless the supply increases, the scenario might play out again in January, with the second set of expiration dates, Kiss said.