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Parents struggling to find EpiPens for back-to-school with nationwide shortage

Mother calls 34 pharmacies to locate one in CO
Posted at 2:43 PM, Aug 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-18 21:10:35-04

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LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- Back to school shopping is not limited to supplies in the classroom, parents who have kids with severe allergies are also racing to find EpiPens. One Colorado mom reached out to Contact7 with her difficult experience tracking them down for her daughter.

“I went to the pharmacy as I always do whenever I need an EpiPen,” said mother Rachel Hamasaki. “I went to the pharmacist and they said, 'we have no EpiPens.'”

Rachel’s daughter, Emma, has a severe nut allergy. Emma’s school requires her to have two EpiPens to attend kindergarten.

"We have to have one everywhere we go,” said Hamasaki.

Rachel reached out to Contact7 to share her journey to find EpiPens before school started. This was no easy task, especially when she was put on a waiting list.

“I was shocked. What do you mean wait list? They said, 'well, right now we have 22 people on the wait list so you can join that,'” said Hamasaki.

Rachel said she called 34 pharmacies around Denver to find them.

“I called Safeways, Costcos, Walgreens, Walmarts, everything, all of the King Soopers."

Most places were out of stock, except for one.

“I found one finally in Arvada which was about a 40-minute drive."

This came as a relief for Rachel, but also a concern as she looks toward the future in needing more EpiPens when the stock is not keeping up with the demand.

“It’s a medicine that you have to buy every year and for her she's going to need four,” said Hamasaki. “There are so many people in this country and in the world that have allergies. That is just something that you know you have to have it if you have a severe allergy."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved the first generic version of EpiPen late this past week. The FDA hopes this will provide more options for families during the shortage. It also creates new competition that could help drive down the cost of the life-saving product.