(Adds comment from UK department of health)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - European makers of emergency allergy treatments are stepping up production of alternative life-saving adrenaline shots to try to fill intermittent shortages of Mylan’s market-leading EpiPen injection.
Mylan began warning about EpiPen supply constraints in Britain two months ago. Canada has also seen similar problems, while on Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration added EpiPens to its list of drugs in shortage in the United States.
The shortfall reflects manufacturing delays at Pfizer’s Meridian Medical Technologies unit, which is Mylan’s manufacturing partner and produces all the EpiPens sold globally at a single plant near St. Louis.
Allergy charities said there were anecdotal reports of some patients having difficulty filling prescriptions but there did not appear to be major supply issues overall, thanks to the availability of rival products.
Jext and Emerade, from ALK-Abello and Valeant’s Bausch+Lomb unit respectively, are sold in both Britain and parts of Europe, while Lincoln Medical makes Anapen for certain European markets outside the UK.
“ALK has increased its production,” a spokesman for Denmark-based ALK-Abello said on Thursday. “We are doing all we can to meet the increased demand. We can make up some of the shortfall but not all, as EpiPen has a market share of around 70 percent.”
Lincoln Medical said it had not yet seen any major impact in Europe, reflecting the fact that the market was cushioned by multiple sources of supply and by the stocks held at distributors.
A spokeswoman for Britain’s health department said “limited” supplies of standard-dose EpiPens were available and stocks were being closely managed to ensure pharmacies could fulfil prescriptions. Supplies of half-dose 0.15 mg EpiPen junior have not been hit and remain readily available.
“Any patient who is unable to obtain supplies of EpiPen 0.3 mg should speak to their doctor about using an alternative,” she said.
EpiPens and other competing devices deliver doses of adrenaline via an automatic injector that a patient or caregiver can administer in the event of severe allergic reaction, such as to bee stings or exposure to peanuts. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)