Walgreens to offer Auvi-Q as EpiPen shortage challenges parents

Walgreens will stock the Auvi-Q as an EpiPen shortage has left some pharmacies unable to fill prescriptions of the lifesaving allergy treatment, leaving some parents scrambling.

Like EpiPen, the Auvi-Q delivers epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions. The small rectangular auto-injector walks people through its use. Drugmaker Kaleo’s partnership with Walgreens will be the first time the Auvi-Q has been available at retail pharmacies. Currently, patients can only receive the devices through the mail.

The Auvi-Q’s introduction to Walgreens comes as manufacturing disruptions have led to an EpiPen shortage. Drugstores across the country have no or very few EpiPens in stock. It’s especially frustrating for parents who are trying to stock up and send their children back to school with a fresh supply of medication.

One possible drawback is the Auvi-Q’s price tag: $4,500 for two auto-injectors. Kaleo, a privately held company, said eligible patients with commercial insurance, even those with high deductible plans, can obtain the Auvi-Q at no cost. However, not every insurer covers it.

Patients without insurance can apply for an assistance program.

“We are working with insurance providers to maximize coverage of AUVI-Q for as many patients as possible,” Phil Rackliffe, general manager of Allergy and Pediatrics at Kaleo, said in a statement.

Mylan markets EpiPen, while Pfizer manufacturers it. Supply issues started in May, but the school year has added more pressure to the situation. Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which makes the Adrenaclick, has also faced manufacturing issues this year. Pfizer also produces that drug.

The Food and Drug Administration approved a generic version of EpiPen last month. Its producer, Teva, said it would launch the drug “in the coming months” but didn’t specify a date when announcing its approval.

Patients who can’t fill their epinephrine prescriptions can work with Walgreens pharmacists and their doctor to see if the Auvi-Q is appropriate for them.

“Walgreens pharmacists continue to care for and work with patients and their prescribers to ensure they have access to the epinephrine auto-injectors they need, and we’re pleased to work with kaléo to help meet the demand for epinephrine auto-injectors across the country,” Walgreens President of Operations Richard Ashworth said in a statement.

Meg Tirrell
contributed to this report

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