It got bad press for being so expensive, but these days, the cost is not the primary concern for patients who depend on injectable epinephrine, also known as EpiPen.
The drug is a must-have for those with severe allergies, but for many families, they're struggling to find it.
"It's very frustrating. It's hard to explain to patients," said Pharmacist Lisa Rogers, Sullivan's Pharmacy in Roslindale.
EpiPen has been in a severe shortage for at least the last eight months.
"Obviously, it's a lifesaving medication. So, we do everything we can to get it from anywhere we can," said Rogers.
AT 515 AND ONLY ON @boston25: On the hunt for an injectable lifesaver. Patients jumping through hoops to track down drug used for severe allergic reactions. One doctor shows us a plentiful (but pricey!!) alternative. pic.twitter.com/W35e9c4Afa— Jim Morelli (@MorelliJim) January 10, 2019
Three boxes of the generic version of the drug came into Sullivan's this week, but if Rogers needs more, she is out of luck because her computer is singing a familiar tune: out of stock.
"If there's no more we do try different wholesalers, different companies, see if we can get them. Unfortunately, if we're out, we're out.
For some families, that has meant a far and wide search for the drug, which is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions.
One mother wrote to Boston 25 News it took almost two months to get a prescription filled and they were able to get one by paying more for the non-generic one.
Like every drug, EpiPens and its generic have expiration dates. One thing the FDA has done to try and ease the shortage is to expand expiration dates out.
For patients taught to always have fresh epinephrine on hand, this might seem like a risky proposition, but allergy doctor John Leung says they shouldn't worry.
"Based on the data I reviewed they are pretty stable even after four months after the expiration date," said Dr. John Leung, Boston Food Allergy Center.
Because of the shortage, Leung has taken to prescribing an alternate product that gives verbal instructions.
"Both of them contain the same medication, epinephrine. And both of them are auto-injector," said Leung.
The similarities end there, right down to the price. The talking injector without insurance coverage costs ten times more than its silent cousin.
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