Yesterday, WRIC – the ABC affiliate in Richmond, VA – aired a report leading with a stock photo of an EpiPen®, claiming that epinephrine was in short supply. Since then we have received a number of inquiries from panicked readers concerned that auto-injectors will not be available when needed.
Though it’s true that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated numerous epinephrine shortages on their website for months now, these are specifically for vials and syringes of the drug generally administered by healthcare professionals in a hospital or clinical setting. Despite the reported shortages from specific manufacturers, our understanding is that epinephrine is generally available when needed.
The FDA’s site makes no mention of a shortage of auto-injectors, the devices that sufferers of severe allergies carry with them for emergency use in case of a severe reaction. A series of calls to pharmacies in five states confirmed that they are readily available and that there are no warnings of pending shortages from their suppliers.
It’s been seven years since Brian Hom lost his son BJ to an anaphylactic reaction in 2008 while on vacation in Mexico to celebrate BJ’s high school graduation. Since then, Brian has been a tireless advocate for the food allergy community.
In memory of BJ Hom, please take a few moments to see this video entitled “Food Allergies Don’t Take Vacations”. Even if you’ve seen it before, this cautionary tale will remind you of the stakes involved when anaphylaxis strikes:
Our thoughts are with the Hom family. May Brian’s work and BJ’s legacy save the lives of many others suffering with severe food allergies.
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We read about the tragedies on a regular basis: yet another person succumbs to anaphylaxis because their auto-injectors were left home on a kitchen counter, in a medicine cabinet, or buried in a drawer somewhere.
Our readers know we border on obsessive when reminding people to Take 2 auto-injectors along everywhere… every time. Why 2? In case one malfunctions or a single dose is not enough to stop the progression of symptoms.
We want to know what you do to remind yourself or your family to Take 2.
Janet Sorrells Hagerman has an innovative solution she recently posted in the Peanut Allergy and Anaphylaxis Awareness Facebook group:
My kiddos self carry and sometimes have had a hard time remembering to grab their epipens before we leave the house. So this was my idea to help them remember their pens every time.
Sticky hooks on the door heading out to the garage. They have remembered them every time since. They can hook these insulated pouches on their belts or whatever they may be carrying. It’s in a great place to help them remember when they are walking out the door. Just thought I’d share if anyone else may have issues of kiddos forgetting their pens.
A team from the University of Pennsylvania identified 233 quick-service restaurants in the Center City District of Philadelphia and conducted a study of the 187 that agreed to participate. Staff were asked to respond to a tablet-based survey that assessed their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to food allergy.
The results were both heartening and disturbing: “Despite their high motivation to help food allergic patrons, respondents knew little about how to prevent or respond to adverse events,” as quoted in the summary on the American Public Health Association (APHA) website.
On Monday, the Maine legislature voted to override a veto of bill HP0776 by Republican Governor Paul LePage. The new law, entitled “An Act To Expand Public Access to Epinephrine Autoinjectors”, allows for stock epinephrine to be made available in places of public accommodation beyond schools, such as restaurants, shopping malls, etc.
Yesterday, Ohio State Rep Dr Terry Johnson published an opinion piece in the Highland County Press stating that the voluntary school stock epinephrine legislation he sponsored has already saved the lives of two children in the same Akron area school district. Both children, one allergic to peanuts, the other to pineapple, were administered epinephrine by a trained staff member when it became apparent they were suffering anaphylactic reactions.
In the same article, Johnson announced that Rep Christina Hagan has introduced a bill in the Ohio House to expand access to stock epinephrine to additional places of public accommodation beyond schools.
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Sanofi-aventis Canada Inc has recalled two lots of its 0.15mg/0.15mL (child sized) Allerject auto-injectors due to a manufacturing defect that may prevent the device from working properly. Note that Allerject is the Canadian equivalent of the Auvi-Q sold in the US.
The defect, which affects the needle portion of the auto-injector, may prevent epinephrine from being delivered during an emergency posing a serious health risk to a child being treated for an anaphylactic reaction.
If you purchased an Allerject 0.15mg/0.15mL auto-injector in Canada on or after June 1, check to see if the lot numbers match 2857508 or 2857505. If so, make sure to follow the instructions in this press release issued by the company earlier today.
Dillon Mueller’s story is a horrific tragedy. The 18 year-old Wisconsinite perished in 2014 from an anaphylactic reaction caused by a bee sting despite never having been diagnosed with an allergy. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and encourage you to read about Dillon on the website his parents, Angel and George Mueller, established to memorialize him.
Because he was never diagnosed with an allergy, Dillon was never prescribed epinephrine, so there was no auto-injector on-hand to administer the only drug that might have saved his life.
In an effort to foster much needed change, the Muellers have started a petition urging the FDA to designate epinephrine an “Over the Counter” (OTC) drug, i.e. one that is readily available without a prescription. The premise of the petition is that more people would carry epinephrine if it was available without a prescription, and more people carrying would imply a greater chance of epinephrine being available when a victim suffering anaphylaxis isn’t carrying his own.
While we appreciate the Muellers’ efforts to help prevent others from suffering the same fate as Dillon’s, we believe this effort is misguided.
Let’s end the constant stream of headlines that bring us news of yet another preventable death!
If your child self-carries, remind them to always Take 2 epinephrine auto-injectors along everywhere, every time! Perform spot checks! Nag them! Don’t let them out of the house without them!
If your child is too young to carry, make sure their caregivers always have access to two epinephrine auto-injectors and are trained when and how to use them!
Whether your child is 4 or 24, your job as protector doesn’t end until there’s a cure!
Click here for a set of flyers like the one above and post them at home to remind everyone to be vigilant!
In an all-too-familiar scenario, the Mirror reports yet another teen in the UK has suffered a fatal bout of anaphylaxis while dining out.
Dylan Hill, an 18 year old apprentice builder, collapsed on a street in Barnsley, South Yorkshire an hour after consuming a curry dish while on a date. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Dylan, who had a severe tree nut allergy and had suffered reactions before, did not have his epinephrine auto-injector on-hand.
Dylan’s father, Anthony Robinson said: “EpiPens aren’t practical for an 18-year-old lad who likes to wear skinny jeans. But it is there for a reason – people are not indestructible.
“He had known for years he had the allergy – I was always telling him to carry his EpiPen and inhalers, because he had asthma as well. He would say, ‘I know, I will’, but as he got older he didn’t really take it out as much. He got a bit lax and often went out without it. He was 18 and thought it wouldn’t happen to him and he would have time to get to a hospital if it did.”
Let’s take a moment to reflect and learn from this senseless tragedy.
Yes, it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week, a great time to educate others about the causes and dangers of anaphylaxis. But while awareness itself is a wonderful thing, it doesn’t mean a whole lot unless it motivates a change in behavior.
So pause for a moment and answer this one overriding question:
Did you remember to Take 2?
What we’re referring to, of course, is to always take 2 life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors along and having them on-hand wherever you go. Whether you’re relaxing at home, off to school, or just stepping outside to walk the dog, take 2 along everywhere… every time.
Why 2? Because a single dose may not be enough to halt the progression of anaphylaxis when you or your child suffers a severe allergic reaction. And you never want to be caught with too little epinephrine on-hand when a life depends on it.
So while you’re busy spreading awareness, be sure to heed the message. To help remind you and your loved ones, click here to download a collection of flyers from our Take 2 Campaign like the one below and be sure to hang them everywhere.
Because, let’s face it: awareness alone won’t stop anaphylaxis. Only epinephrine will.
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