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The North Dakota Department of Health has developed new training to combat the nationwide shortage of an epinephrine auto-injector.

The health department's Division of Emergency Medical Services has developed an optional training for emergency responders in delivering epinephrine in an injectable form. Chris Price, the division's director, said the training was created in response to the nationwide EpiPen shortage.

"It was particularly in response to the shortage. The added benefit is it saves the ambulance service and other emergency responders money," Price said.

EpiPen is the most widely used prescribed epinephrine auto-injector in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Epinephrine is used for the treatment of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The pharmaceutical company Mylan has been experiencing a shortage of its EpiPens since May.

The new Department of Health training allows emergency medical responders and emergency medical technicians to learn how to inject epinephrine without using an auto-injector.

"The issue with epinephrine is, it’s not a very expensive drug, however (an EpiPen) is expensive. This takes that automatic, mechanical device expense out of it," Price said.

Though Mark Hardy, executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy, hasn't had any firsthand reports of the EpiPen shortage directly impacting patients in North Dakota, he said he believes the training will be beneficial.

"I haven’t had anybody, as far as pharmacists, really, say that there’s any critical nature of it, yet," he said. "That's a good thing that they're training, just in case."

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter