An epinephrine auto-injector, EpiPen.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israeli company, announced yesterday that its generic version of the EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector 0.3 mg) is now available in limited supply.

The device, which can stop a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction in its tracks, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August, with hopes that it might provide a more affordable option. But the expected wholesale price—$300 per package—for this new product is not necessarily less than other injectors already on the market, which range from about $100 to $500.

Still, its arrival may help ease the ongoing spot shortages of epinephrine auto-injectors, which continue to make it difficult for some consumers to get the devices.

Teva Pharmaceuticals said more of the generic devices, including versions intended for children, will be available in 2019.

More on EpiPens

Teva’s product is the first generic competitor to Mylan’s EpiPen, EpiPen Jr, and Mylan’s own authorized generic version, all of which have been in short supply since May 2018 due to manufacturing issues.

Though there are two other epinephrine auto-injectors on the market—the Adrenaclick and Auvi-Q—those medications are not always covered by insurance. In addition, pharmacists can’t always substitute those drugs for an EpiPen, without first getting a doctor’s approval, because the devices are not considered similar enough by the FDA. However, Teva’s new generic versions are essentially identical to original EpiPens, and can therefore be substituted even if a doctor doesn’t expressly authorize it, giving patients more options.

The products' arrival in stores will likely be welcome news to the many families who had trouble finding an EpiPen at retailers.

For instance, in August, Holly Hatch was unable to fill her daughter’s EpiPen prescription at her local CVS in California’s Monterey Bay area because the product was back-ordered. “My almost 3-year-old daughter is severely allergic to eggs and tree nuts, and not having an EpiPen for her is a huge stressor,” Hatch told Consumer Reports at the time.

What Are Your Options Now

If you’re still having trouble filling a prescription for an EpiPen or are in search of lower cost options, here are some tips you can try:

Call around. Different pharmacies carry different brands based on supply and demand, so if one store is out of stock, other locations might have it.

Be open to Teva’s generic version. Ask your pharmacist whether Teva’s new generic epinephrine auto-injector is available at your store’s location. It should be a viable substitution for an EpiPen prescription.

Ask about alternatives. For example, you could ask whether generic Adrenaclick is in stock—and whether it’s covered by your insurance. If your insurer does not cover an alternative, it's worth asking whether it will make an exception because of the shortage—or whether there's a coupon that will help lower the cost.

Contact Mylan for help. If you need help finding a store in your area, you could call Mylan customer relations at 800-796-9526, then press 2. Customer service is open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Or email customer.service@mylan.com.

Search for discounts. Look for coupons on websites such as GoodRx, which offer discounts on many drugs. Or look into manufacturer coupons. Kaleo, the maker of Auvi-Q, has an assistance program that enables people with commercial insurance or those without insurance and a household income of less than $100,000 to obtain Auvi-Q for $0 out of pocket. Note that it can take several days to get the medication because your doctor will need to submit an application on your behalf and the company will need to review it to see whether you qualify.

Hold on to your old EpiPen. You may still be able to use auto-injectors beyond the expiration date listed on the product. In August, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it extended the expiration date by four months for specific lots of Mylan’s branded EpiPen products and their authorized generic version.

To see whether your EpiPen is still usable, go to the FDA’s website for a listing of the epinephrine auto-injector batches that have extended expiration dates. If your device’s number is one of those listed, you will be able to use that injector through the new corresponding dates. For the longest shelf life, store the medication at room temperature. Also be aware that if the epinephrine liquid in your device is cloudy, pink, or brown (rather than colorless), or if it contains solid particles, that indicates that the medicine has decayed and is unsafe to use.