July 21, 2019 5:19 pm

Auto-injector shortage not expected despite Pfizer’s EpiPen warning, Health Canada says

An EpiPen pictured in Kingston, Ont., on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg
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Health Canada says there will be a sufficient supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in Canada in the coming months despite a warning from Pfizer Canada of a potential shortage of its EpiPen 0.3 mg product.

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In a press release issued on Thursday, Pfizer Canada said that while the product is still “routinely shipping” to Canada, the company has begun to “preventatively manage” available EpiPen 0.3 mg supply through “measured national allocation to wholesalers.”

READ MORE: Health Canada reviewing whether to extend EpiPen expiry dates

“We fully recognize the criticality of EpiPen auto-injectors to patients and physicians and are working hard to ensure consistent supply,” the statement says. “This allocation is intended to support the provision of EpiPen 0.3 mg auto-injectors to patients across the country and avoid stock-out during the upcoming high demand back to school season.”

Pfizer says the EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg format is not affected by the shortage.

WATCH: EpiPen shortage — What you need to know about sending your kids back to school (Aug. 2018)

As required by law, Pfizer reported the potential shortage to Drug Shortages Canada on Tuesday and informed Health Canada.

In a statement issued Friday, Health Canada said it is aware that Pfizer Canada is reporting the potential shortage, but anticipates there will be an adequate supply of auto-injectors across the country.

“Health Canada recognizes how important epinephrine auto-injectors are for people with life threatening allergies,” the statement reads, “Based on information to date, Health Canada anticipates there will be adequate supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in Canada to meet the needs of Canadians over the coming months.”

READ MORE: Health minister set to make U.S.-made EpiPen alternative available in Canada

Last year, an interim order was signed by the minister of health as an emergency measure in response to an EpiPen shortage.

The order, which remains in effect, facilitates the import of an alternative epinephrine auto-injector, Auvi-Q.

Auvi-Q, made by Kaleo, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Both EpiPen and Auvi-Q deliver the same labelled dose of epinephrine; however, unlike EpiPen, Auvi-Q has a retractable needle as well as an electronic voice instruction system.

WATCH: Mother of child with anaphylaxis told son can’t attend school with expired EpiPen (Aug. 2018)

Health Canada says Auvi-Q remains available for Canadians to access and that it will not hesitate to facilitate the import of additional international supply of epinephrine auto-injectors if necessary.

“The Department is monitoring the situation very closely and working with Pfizer, provinces and territories, and stakeholders to prevent impacts on Canadians who rely on these life-saving devices,” the statement says.

-With files from the Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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