The cost of maintaining stock epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency medical services (EMS) is often prohibitively high. In New York alone, where all ambulances are required to carry epinephrine, it’s estimated that NY EMS services spent as much as $10 million for auto-injectors in 2016, many of which expired without being used.
“That’s really good patient care, but when you’re paying $900 for two auto-injectors, that becomes fiscally challenging, particularly for many volunteer companies,” said Dr Jeremy Cushman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester and a certified paramedic. “Let’s face it – we don’t use epinephrine every day, thank goodness, so for some of these agencies, although it was life-saving, they may use it once a year.”
Following the lead of King County, Washington, Cushman and his team designed a standard syringe with special markings for adult and child doses of epinephrine, and worked with a manufacturer to assemble a kit with the syringe, medication, alcohol pads, etc.
Nearly 650 agencies participated in a pilot program using the new kits. The program, entitled “Check & Inject NY” launched in May 2017 and is projected to slash the cost of epinephrine by 90%.
The cost savings will also ensure that more first responder services will be able to carry epinephrine.
“We were able to identify a safe and cost-effective solution that is likely saving our EMS agencies literally millions of dollars,” said Cushman. “That allows us to perhaps get more epinephrine out there or support our agencies in other ways, particularly in the diminishing reimbursement environment of ambulance services.”
“The more that we can facilitate the treatment for anaphylaxis out in the field, the better off we’ll be,” he said.
We at SnackSafely.com applaud efforts to find ways to decrease the cost and increase the availability of life-saving epinephrine. We urge all states and municipalities to adopt similar programs to ensure that stock epinephrine is readily available for use by all emergency first responders.