epipen
Health Canada is warning Canadians to prepare for an EpiPen shortage this August. (Wikimedia Commons)

Health Canada is warning Canadians to prepare for an EpiPen shortage at pharmacies during the month of August.

According to Health Canada, while some pharmacies may currently have some supply on-hand, it will likely be depleted in the coming days or weeks. Pfizer Canada, which manufactures the injectors, does not expect to be able to provide new supply until the end of August.

The shortage will include both EpiPen (0.3 mg) and EpiPen Jur (0.15 mg) auto-injectors. Both are used to deliver an emergency treatment of adrenaline (epinephrine) to patients who are at risk or have a history of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).

There are currently no alternatives to the auto-injector on the market in Canada.

The company says that they will still be able to supply EpiPen Jr, but the supply is limited and is being carefully managed at the national level.

Health Canada also reminded Canadians that EpiPen products expire on the last day of the month indicated on the package. For example, products with an August expiry date won’t expire until August 31.

In the case of an anaphylactic reaction, Health Canada advises to use expired product if there is nothing else available, and get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

According to Pfizer Canada, the current shortage is due to a manufacturing issue with the EpiPen 0.3 mg format.

“We understand the stress that a shortage of a necessary medication can place on patients, families, and the health system,” Health Canada stated. “We are exploring every option available to the Department with the goal of resolving the situation as soon as possible.”

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