Victoria resident Jean Paetkau carries several EpiPens wherever she goes.

“I have two kids with allergies, I’m also at risk for anaphylaxis. If we don’t have access to EpiPens we just can’t go anywhere, it’s just not safe,” says Paetkau.

It’s why mothers like Paetkau are frustrated with a nationwide EpiPen shortage.

“I don’t understand why this drug is not a priority. It’s a life-saving drug and people need to have it,” says Paetkau.

This week, the province and Health Canada announced a shortage in the life-saving medication due to manufacturing issues.

“The issue will be coming in the next weeks to months when those supplies run out, that’s when people will be getting concerned,” says local pharmacist John Forster-Coull.

Forster-Coull says it’s not all doom and gloom. If you need a pen and can’t find one, there are other options.

“Talk to your pharmacist. They may be able to find it from another pharmacy that has a supply or elsewhere in Canada. If worse comes to worse they can talk to your family doctor,” says Forster-Coull.

There is an alternative that can be prescribed but using it’s a more complicated process.

“That’s not an option for them, they’re not going to be filling a needle with epinephrine. So, for myself, sure that’s fine. But for my kids, that’s absolutely not an option,” says Paetkau.

If you’re like Paetkau and sticking with EpiPens, Forster-Coull says there’s no rush to stock up.

“Being reasonable is what’s important, hoarding is not the solution”

The shortage is expected to be resolved by May 31. In the meantime, Health Canada says expired EpiPens can be used during a reaction before calling 911.

Isabelle Raghem