The United States is experiencing a shortage of EpiPens and students are suffering because of it.
As a new school year begins, parents are rushing to find these lifesaving devices for their children because some schools will not let kids with allergies come to school without their medication, reports CBS News.
Erin Malawer, author of the blog “Allergy Shmallergy” and mother to a child with food allergies says pharmacies are not expecting renewals of the medication until October or November.
“It’s just not clear exactly who is to blame or what the issue is, and it is all really frustrating,” Malawer said.
Dr. Doreen Kiss, a pediatrician and clinic chief at UW Medicine Kent-Des Moines Clinic called the shortage a “national crisis.”
“When the decisions are, do we go to school and take a risk of having an exposure versus being excluded for a few months, it’s a very difficult situation,” Kiss said.
One reason for the shortage could be caused by manufacturing changes in response to the FDA doling out violations. Another could be the high-demand as the school year starts or the price for the medication being too much for families.
The FDA extended the expiration date for some EpiPens by four months because the situation has become so severe.
Despite trying to help families, being told to use medication past its expiration date has brought fear and confusion to many parents.
A school in Ohio has refused to take expired EpiPens for liability reasons.
An estimated eight to ten percent of children have food allergies, according to WebMD.
Eden Morris, a 5-year-old with allergies, has been told not to come back to his Wash., elementary school until he has an EpiPen.
“There’s nothing else that made me feel worse than my son telling me, ‘Mom, why can’t I go to school? Why am I different from other kids?” Eden’s mom said.
Morris was unaware of the school’s policy on students needing their EpiPen while at school. They told her on the first day when Eden was asked to leave.
All the pharmacies Morris called were out of stock and her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost, making Morris unable to acquire the medication.
It wasn’t until the Morris family’s story was aired on CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV, that she received a phone call from the company Mylan, an EpiPen distributor.
“She found out where there was one available…I was so happy, blessed and thankful that someone took the time to hear our voice. Someone took the time to help my son,” Morris said.
The school district sent out a statement saying school nurses are working with families to get students back in school. Morris, however, believes the school should be doing more.
“You’re discriminating [against] these children because they don’t have a product available,” Morris said.
A statement from Mylan says they have been successful at locating the product and for patients and caregivers to contact them for assistance.
“We continue to encourage patients and caregivers who are experiencing difficulty filling their prescription to call us,” the statement said.
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