Mylan, the maker of EpiPens, made headlines in August 2016 for the increased pricing of the most popular medication delivery device sold to treat anaphylaxis. With one in thirteen children in the United States having some type of allergy, and an increase in the number of elderly with allergies, the need for EpiPens continues to increase.
Given the time necessary for new drugs to enter the market there are limited options for other providers of epinephrine, but there are options. FARE, the Food Allergy Research and Education is one of the nation’s largest allergy focused organizations, and has build out a great resource for EpiPen alternatives.
For schools, Mylan has their EpiPen4Schools program which provides two sets - one adult and one Jr. - to have on campus in the event of a severe allergic reaction. If a school is going to pursue this program, there will need to be a physician to sign-off for the medication and it is best if the entire adult community is properly trained. Use of EpiPens is now a component of most fundamental first aid classes, as well as CPR / AED training. Training videos can also be found online, while we encourage the use of the trainer devices for practice with the allergic individual prior to actual need. Building muscle memory and normalizing the administering of medication will be incredibly beneficial during times of stress.
One important safety tool that every allergic individual needs to be sure to have is a medical ID bracelet. These simple and critical identifiers enable others to know key pieces of information, are are also great ways to have younger people own their health and become comfortable talking about any conditions or potential allergic reactions. In times of emergency the details provided on a medical ID bracelet can truly be life saving, not just for food allergies.
With the coming start of school, questions concerning food allergies will probably become more frequent, and it is important that we all take part in doing this small step to be sure everyone can stay safe. If you are hosting family and friends towards the end of summer make sure you are aware of any food restrictions, and consider having ingredient cards available if unsure of your guest’s medical conditions. If you are allergic wear a medical ID bracelet or pendant, be sure to carry the proper medications with you, and share your story with others. Take the time to demystify the associations to allergies through stories and education.