Posted by Vicky on | April 26, 2013 | 3 Comments
The EpiPen lottery is still ongoing in Singapore. For those who need this lifesaving medical device, the stocks are again running low – with the EpiPen Jr supply being the most effected.
Merck is no longer the distributer for EpiPens in Singapore, and the license is currently being transferred to a new pharmaceutical distributing company. However, the license has not been transferred as of today. This opens up a broad question… are Mylan (the American manufactures) delaying the license transfer because to them the Singaporean market place is smaller and not as profitable as say the Australian marketplace, whose distributors were recently changed? Australia appears to have had no issues with their EpiPen supply. Has Singapore been put on the back-burner?
Even if the new company gets the licence transfer within the next 2 to 3 weeks, the stock will still take at best months to be replenished. The low level of stock will in turn effect the shelf life of the EpiPens and EpiPen Jrs that are available. Singapore will still be facing the situation of limited if not exhausted stock – and low level shelf life. Which proves to be not only distresssing but also expensive for those who need this life saving piece of medical equipment. To buy an EpiPen is expensive – but it is essential. In theory one EpiPen should, at the point of purchase, have a shelf life of a year. For those buying in Singapore though, that it not often the case. Resulting in multiple EpiPen purchases per year. It’s not like a having a Strepsil for a sore throat – if the Stepsil runs out, there are alternatives. The Epipen is currently the only emergency adrenalin device available to those in Singapore. It is life saving. And not be belabor the point – but if stocks run out, do Mylan really want a death on their conscience?
In an open plea to Mylan, please rectify this situation. Your customers in Singapore deserve better. We deserve to have confidence in the knowledge that stock will be there when we need it, and we deserve to have confidence in the knowledge that the EpiPen will have a reasonable shelf life.
In American, UK and Australia for example, EpiPen purchasers can be rest assured that their EpiPen will have a shelf life of at least 12 months – Singaporeans and those living here deserve the same. We understand that this issue is not just down to the suppliers (although the low levels of stock is exasperating the current situation) but also to the individual pharmacies who supply them… in theory if an EpiPen has a limited shelf life, the pharmacy has the option to return them to the supplier to get new stock in. It’s a 100% exchange, so the pharmacy is not losing out on money. Yet with the stock/distributor issues Singapore is currently facing, this is not an option at this moment in time.
On a positive note a new adrenaline device called Aquvi-Q, from Sanofi, is hopefully coming into the market this year – dependent on HSA approval. If Mylan don’t get their act together, I know where I will be buying my adrenaline device from.
At the time of writing this article EpiPen Jrs are available in the following places. The list of hospitals that should carry EpiPen stock was provided by Merck – the previous EpiPen distributers. I have only looked at hospitals in Singapore, an not private clinics:
Mount Elizabeth: tel 6737 2666. 17 in stock expiry date May 2014
Changi General Hospital: tel 6850 1887. 0 stock
KK Hospital: tel 6394 2463 . 0 stock
Raffles Hospital: tel 6311 1782. 1 in stock expiry date August 2013
Singapore General Hospital: tel 6321 4110 . 0 stock
Tan Tock Seng Hospital: tel 6357 2040 . 0 stock
NUH: tel 6772 5181 5 in stock. Expiry date April 2014 $142
That makes it a total of 23 EpiPen Jrs in stock, one of which expiries in 3 months. A shameful situation. If each parent buys on average 2 EpiPens (and that is a low estimate per child), there are enough EpiPens in Singapore’s hospitals for 11 children. 11.