I recently discovered Australia is gripped by a pharmaceutical crisis that isn’t making headlines.
There’s a worldwide EpiPen shortage. I only became aware of it last month when I was getting the youngest ready for school camp.
She’s anaphylactic to nuts and I’d left it until a couple of days before she left to get a new EpiPen, as the last one was way over expiry.
And I couldn’t find one ANYWHERE.
I searched and I searched and I searched and every single pharmacy was out of stock. I eventually pieced together from the disinterested staff that there was a shortage.
Some of the attendants were disturbingly off-hand about it too, just shrugging their shoulders when I said “How can there be no EpiPens? Someone could DIE!” I’m thinking a little empathy wouldn’t go astray at dispensaries when dealing with life threatening issues.
I Googled “EpiPen shortage” and learned there’s only one freaking pharmaceutical company that imports EpiPens into Australia and it’s having production issues.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has apparently been working with Alphapharm to bring new supplies into the country, but it’s taken FOREVER.
Fortunately I eventually found a single EpiPen fot camp/school, but I couldn’t get another one for home. Finally, almost two months later, I got a call from the pharmacy yesterday afternoon to say they had a few in stock, but I would need to hurry.
I said I’d be there at 8.30am the next morning, the minute they opened. The woman on the phone said that would be a good idea because they couldn’t hold mine for long.
So I stood and waited outside the darkened store at 8.20am. At 8.31am a couple of assistants strolled up and said they hoped I wasn’t there for a prescription.
Pray tell why?
Because their pharmacist had gone AWOL and no one knew when they would be turning up. So I had to head to work without the fricking EpiPen. I begged them to hold it for me until I could get back.
On my way out of the shopping centre I passed this bloke in the fish shop …
I think I’ve finally lost it, because I started commiserating with a fish head: “Monday mornings suck, don’t they mate?”
He didn’t answer me because fish can’t talk … even when they’re still in possession of their bodies … unless they’re Babel Fish. Did you know someone’s invented real-life Babel Fish headphones? Soooooo cool. Though apparently they’re VERY uncomfortable.
A TGA spokesman has told the newspapers that supplies of EpiPens will continue to be limited for a while.
“Although new stock is starting to arrive, supplies will remain tight as back orders and emergency supply is dealt with,” the spokesman said.
“To avoid, stockpiling, Alphapharm is working with wholesalers to implement an allocation system to ensure all pharmacies can get stock.”
The TGA has also organised a temporary supply of a similar product called Emerade from the UK and these should be available in the next few weeks.
In addition, a third company is looking to enter the Australian market with an EpiPen-like product in the middle of 2018.
I’m pretty stunned that only one company supplies such a crucial product to Australia and can blithely run out, aren’t you?
The TGA says that while it can encourage companies with EpiPen-like products to apply to market them in Australia, the government has no powers to force them to do so – “it is a commercial decision”.
I’m not sure people’s lives should be a commercial decision … but also, if there’s a shortage, how can there not be a commercial upside to exporting them to Oz?
Scary and bizarre. But hopefully I will have that EpiPen in my hands tonight. I reckon it will be pretty crucial when we head to Shanghai in July for the World Skipping Championships. It could be a bit tricky ensuring there are no nuts in the youngest’s food when we don’t speak the language.
Do you have anyone anaphylactic in your family? Have you had problems getting an EpiPen?
Song of the day: Evanescence “Bring me to life”