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LI health providers hit by nationwide EpiPen device shortage

The nationwide device shortage includes EpiPen 0.3 mg,

The nationwide device shortage includes EpiPen 0.3 mg, above, and similar auto-injectors delivering epinephrine, the FDA has announced. Credit: AP / Rich Pedroncelli

Manufacturing delays have created a nationwide shortage of EpiPens and similar generic devices designed to provide a prompt rescue from a severe allergic reaction.

On Long Island, some pharmacies have adequate backlogs of the auto-injector pens that deliver adrenaline, also called epinephrine. Other outlets have been hit by the shortage.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration added EpiPen and similar devices to its official list of shortages this week.

Auto-injectors are used by children and adults experiencing severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. The reactions can be caused by foods, insect bites or stings and other allergy triggers.

The problem involves EpiPen, EpiPen 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg Auto-Injector, products of pharmaceutical company Mylan. Generic auto-injectors also are affected, as well as the brand Adrenaclick by Impax Laboratories.

If a pharmacy is out of the devices, the FDA recommends that patients call others because it is likely that another outlet will have them.

“We have some in stock, but when we have tried to order them, we got [a notification] that they’re on back-order,” said Danielle Russo, a pharmacy technician at New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park.

Other pharmacies on the Island said their shelves are bare, or are on the brink of being so.

“We’ve had a shortage for the past week. The two warehouses that we deal with are out,” said pharmacist Mary Vukadin at Rockville Centre Pharmacy in Rockville Centre.

On Thursday, the FDA notified the Northwell Health system of the problem. The network is the largest health care provider in the region.

“Currently, we do have an adequate supply within Northwell Health,” Onisis Stefas, vice president of pharmacy operations at Northwell, said in an email. “However, we are developing contingency plans in case the shortage persists and the product is no longer available.”

He emphasized there is no shortage of epinephrine, the drug that the devices deliver.

“We are looking at alternative ways of administering epinephrine without utilizing the pen device,” he said.

Northwell confirmed, however, that EpiPen currently is not available from its wholesaler.

“The expectation is the shortage will be resolved before the current stock runs out,” Stefas said.

Mylan works jointly with Meridian Medical Technologies in Missouri, a division of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., to produce the devices.

Mylan, in a statement, said it had informed the FDA a few months ago of “intermittent supply constraints.”

“Mylan is expediting shipment to wholesalers upon receipt, and supply levels may vary across wholesalers and pharmacies,” the company’s statement said.

Walgreens, which has outlets throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, told Newsday in a statement Thursday that its pharmacies are stocked.

“While this continues to be a fluid situation, a majority of our stores have EpiPen products available at this time,” the statement said. “If a particular store is currently out of stock, other locations may have it available.”

CVS also has adequate supplies in the region, its officials said in a statement.

“We have been able to secure small allocations of the various types of epinephrine auto-injectors and are continuing to supply stores as needed using our current inventory,” the statement said.