Epinephrine Shortages

By Isabella Brady

Epinephrine, the lifesaving medication proves essential for Americans with severe health conditions. However, recent shortages on a systemic level leave thousands at a deadly risk, as manufacturers offer only weak promises of restocking come the new year. 

Asthma, severe allergies (resulting in anaphylactic shock), even cardiac arrest—a plethora of life threatening conditions rely on epinephrine, or adrenaline to treat symptoms. Yet, larger drug companies such as Pfizer lie way above their head due to the shortages of other drugs available, one of which being 0.9 Sodium Chloride, necessary to create epinephrine. Production of both auto injectors alongside mere syringes of the medication are currently strained and intermittent, meaning individuals alongside larger organizations such as schools and hospitals struggle to purchase the medicine. 

Over the past few years, manufacturing delays consistently limit the amount of epinephrine available for consumers, spurring a diverse range of effects from the avoidable circumstances. Costing approximately $690 per auto injection, Epi-Pens are often purchased in pairs to provide an additional, life saving dose for relapses and severe allergic reactions. Shortages enable further fluctuations in price, thus, disproportionately endangering those of lower socioeconomic status. 

Hospitals and schools alike must rationalize their supplies during shortages. Often ambulances lack the life-saving drug. In moments where time is of essence, epinephrine must be requested in advance during the emergency call in order to ascertain the scarce medication. In the case of an allergic reaction, victims often have minutes to stop the swelling of their airway, the poor awareness regarding the issue paired with inadequate access futally place millions of lives at risk. 

As the holiday season approaches, parents and individuals must scavenge for an epinephrine auto injector (in desperate cases, even a simple syringe of epinephrine) rather than participate in the unfolding seasons surrounding them. As the medication expires in less than 18 months, thousands flock to purchase newly stocked EpiPens every fall—it could save their lives.