SAN ANTONIO – As Nicole Gonzalez knows, sending a child with serious allergies back to school is stressful.
"It's nerve-wracking," she said. "We made it through kindergarten. You can never let your guard down."
The nationwide shortage of EpiPens adds to her frustration and fear.
There is no end in sight for the shortage caused by widespread manufacturing delays, but that does not mean people who suffer from life-threatening allergies are out of luck. There are epinephrine alternatives available.
"There are actually a lot of new options when shopping for an epinephrine injector," said Lisa Gill, of Consumer Reports. "In fact, some might be more easily available or less expensive."
One option is an auto-injector similar to EpiPen called generic Adrenaclick, which requires users to remove two caps instead of one.
The full line of the talking epinephrine auto-injector Auvi-Q is available at Walgreens at no cost to consumers who have commercial insurance. If patients don't live near a Walgreens, the manufacturer, Kaleo, will ship it for free.
Another option new to the market is called Symjepi, which is a prefilled syringe and not an auto-injector. Users manually inject themselves.
"Given that inventory of EpiPens and other epinephrine injectors is so spotty, give yourself greater flexibility by asking your healthcare provider for a prescription that doesn't specify a brand name," Gill said. "That way, your pharmacist can give you whatever is on hand."
To avoid potentially deadly mistakes or injuries, experts recommend asking your doctor or pharmacist for training with any new device.
All of the products have manufacturer coupons or other deals that can lower costs. It's always wise to ask the pharmacist for the lowest price possible to make sure you're getting available discounts.