LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- They're about a size of a marker, but the epinephrine autoinjector known as the EpiPen can save a life.

"It's a simple way for patients to be able to inject themselves or for parents who need to inject their children with epinephrine, which is basically the medication that would alleviate an allergic reaction," Dr. Tim Feger, an allergist with Family Allergy and Asthma, said.

For many children who have allergies, their schools require them to have the antidote as one of their back-to-school supplies.

"They want one available for the child in case there is an allergic emergency then," Feger said.

This past spring, the FDA announced a shortage of EpiPens due to a manufacturing shortage from Pfizer, the company that produces the epinephrine autoinjectors. The shortage has continued, and the medicine is even harder to find now, especially with demand so high.

"We've been inundated the past week or so, school is starting, with both patients and pharmacies calling us unable to get the EpiPen or unable to fill prescriptions for EpiPen for patients," Feger said.

According to Feger, despite the shortage, there are ways for parents to get the medicine. Parents can call Mylan's customer service number at 800-796-9526 to find the locations nearby that do have EpiPens in stock.

Feger also suggests speaking with a physician about getting the generic brand epinephrine autoinjectors or the alternative brand, AUVI-Q, which requires a prescription and gets delivered straight to the patient.

"There's no concern as far as the usefulness of those. We've prescribed those really regularly as well," he said. "The only concern would be that a patient knows how to use it because they are a little bit different, and so any time someone changes from one to the other, we want to make sure they understand how to use that particular device."

In the worst case scenario, Feger said to check the medicine cabinets for the EpiPens that may be past the expiration date.

"An old Epipen is better than no Epipen, so we tell people do not through yours away until you have an alternative or a new one," he said.

Anyone with questions should speak with their physician.

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►Contact reporter Dennis Ting at dting@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@DennisJTing) and Facebook.

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