(Canadian Press/Rich Pedroncelli)                                EpiPens could run out in Canada before the end of August.

(Canadian Press/Rich Pedroncelli) EpiPens could run out in Canada before the end of August.

EpiPen supplies low in Maple Ridge

Some pharmacists not confident they will have more supply by the end of the month

The supply of EpiPens in Maple Ridge is running low and some local pharmacists are nervous whether the manufacturer will have enough supply by the end of August.

Health Canada had warned about a possible lack of the auto-injectors earlier this year, and recently said that manufacturer Pfizer Canada does not expect to be able to provide new supply until the end of August.

EpiPens are the only approved auto-injectors in Canada, and are used to reverse life-threatening, anaphylactic allergic reactions by delivering a shot of epinephrine into the bloodstream. They come in 0.3 mg for adults and 0.15 mg formats for children.

Sharilyn Michalski, a pharmacy technician with The Medicine Shoppe in Maple Ridge, has one 0.3 mg EpiPen in stock.

Normally, she said, the pharmacy would have two in stock on a regular basis.

And once the one is gone, she can’t order any more.

“We just can’t get it from the supplier,” said Michalski.

Karim Virani, a pharmacist and manager of Golden Ears Pharmacy, only has two junior EpiPens available, but no adult ones. However, he does have an epinephrine injection for emergencies. It is a little harder to use, he said, because the needle has to be injected into the shoulder muscle or the middle, outer thigh, but at least there is an option.

Virani is not worried about supply. He expects to have more EpiPens in the next two to three weeks. Also, he added, most people carry extra with them.

“Those who have allergies always carry one at home, one at school, one in the car. Always two or three that they carry,” he said.

He also said that, for now, using an EpiPen that has expired within the last three months will still be OK.

Michael Damjanovic, manager of Alouette Pharmacy, said the supply situation is odd.

“It’s happened before, but it never quite reached this point, where there is nothing available,” he said of the shortage.

He has no EpiPens available, only epinephrine vials, for emergency use only.

Even though the vials are $15.24 each compared to $100 for an EpiPen, they are more difficult to use.

Usually they are only given out as a last resort.

In a statement in April, Pfizer Canada said the EpiPen supply constraints are due to “delays at the manufacturing facility and limited third-party quantities of a component for the product.”

Damjanovic is not confident more will be available by the end of the month.

“Those dates change frequently,” he said.

“In light of the shortage, if you are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction and have only an expired auto-injector, use the expired product and immediately contact 911,” Health Canada advised.

“Regardless of whether the product is expired, you should get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible following the administration of the product, as instructed in the product labeling.”