Parents scrambling amid EpiPen shortage

Posted: Updated:
EAST MEADOW -

A widespread shortage of the lifesaving EpiPen has parents scrambling.

As the new school year approaches, there are concerns that children with serious allergies may be sent back to class unprotected.

Michelle Cruz, of East Meadow, says she always keeps an EpiPen handy. That's because her 11-year-old Benicio has a severe peanut allergy, and the EpiPen must be used to counteract any potentially deadly allergic reaction.

"When we went to our local pharmacy, he informed us they are on backorder and there is no fill date," Cruz says of the shortage.

According to Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen, manufacturing problems with the auto-injector have led to a worldwide shortage that started earlier this year.

"I have heard the panic in the parents voices that I have spoken to," says Dr. Dean Mitchell, an immunologist.

Mitchell says he knows many parents are frightened, but help is on the way. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first generic version of the EpiPen, which is expected to increase the supply. It's also expected to be cheaper. Right now, an Epipen costs $300 to $600 per package.

"There is no reason that patients have to pay through the teeth to get medication they need to save their child or their own life," Mitchell says.

Even though some parents are pleased the FDA has approved a new generic form of the EpiPen, others are a little skeptical

"It is still a waiting game," Cruz says. "Manufacturing [is] gonna take time -- it's not something they are going to do overnight."

Doctors say there are some inexpensive alternatives to the EpiPen. They say concerned parents should discuss those options with a medical professional.

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