(CBS) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking action to address the nationwide shortages of EpiPen. The agency says it’s extending the expiration dates by four months on some injectors.
The EpiPen has been on the FDA’s drug shortages list since last May due to supply, distribution and manufacturing issues.
Having the life-saving medication on back order has hit families across the country hard.
Six-year-old Nathan Schuller-Meyer has a life-threatening food allergy and doesn’t leave home without his EpiPen. But his mom says finding one this summer hasn’t been easy.
“I tried to get our beginning of the school year epipens and was told there was a wait,” Clarissa Schuller-Meyer told CBS News. “Our Walgreens told us it might be October before they get any in.”
To help in the short-term, the FDA and EpiPen manufacturer Pfizer are extending expiration dates for certain injectors that are expiring or close to expiring. Health officials say they’ve reviewed the data and that patients should be confident using the products as they work to stabilize supply.
“Students should not be going back to school this year without their auto-injector,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, and allergist and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The extended expiration dates do not apply to the EpiPen Junior or its generic version. Consumers can check the FDA website for details on which lots of drugs have expanded expiration dates.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is encouraging families who may be having trouble finding their medications to consider alternatives if they can’t get their hands on the EpiPen.
“The alternative auto-injectors are the same containing medication, epinephrine,” Bassett said.
He also notes that families using alternative devices will need to familiarize themselves with the different application process.
Pfizer expects the EpiPen to be more readily available between October and December.