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Parent warns of shortage of life-saving EpiPens

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A FROME parent has expressed concern about the shortage of life-saving EpiPens in the area – putting the lives of people with severe allergies at risk.

Maxine Crawley’s son James, who is 22-years old, has a severe allergy to peanuts and requires two adult dosage EpiPens – an auto-injectable device that delivers the drug adrenaline – to be carried with him at all times in case of anaphylactic shock if he ingests peanuts.

However, because of the national and local shortage of EpiPens, until recently James was left with one EpiPen seven months past its expiration date, and one Emerade device – an EpiPen alternative – to rely on in case of an emergency. Maxine has also raised questions about the prescription of Emerade, due to warnings by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who say that an Emerade device could fail to deliver a dose of adrenaline from the syringe due to a potential blockage in the needle.

Talking to Frome Times, Maxine said, “For the last seven months we have been searching for a replacement prescription; in Southampton where James was at university, and here in Frome. He has had to rely on two expired EpiPens, one of which he had to use in the summer during a visit to the Cotswolds – someone used a teaspoon that had touched peanuts to make his hot chocolate.

“Since then, we have only been successful in getting one Emerade device, which is not good enough because of the risks attached to it. 

“James’ prescription is for two EpiPens, he needs two as there is a risk that one might not work, or that one injection is not enough – so an expired EpiPen and an Emerade device does not offer much reassurance. What if both were to fail? He could die.

“Boots Pharmacy in Frome told us that you just can’t get EpiPens anywhere. We are having to ring round other pharmacies in other towns. This is a real concern – I have also spoken to a local doctor who has confirmed that this is a ongoing problem. Lots of people don’t know that this is happening, so it’s important to warn others living with an allergy, and other parents of this potential problem.”

James is soon to move to Cardiff to begin studying a PhD, increasing Maxine’s concerns about him not having the correct medication available to him.

Maxine said, “My main concern is that James is about to go to a new city, where he will visit unfamiliar outlets who don’t know him – he will be careful, but you can’t guarantee that he will be safe – you just don’t know for sure what goes on in a kitchen.

“James’ doctor has given him a second prescription to use in Cardiff in the hope that he can find an in-date EpiPen there.

“The only thing I can tell James to do is the minute he feels so much as a ‘tingle’, to go to the nearest major A&E hospital. However, currently whilst he is in Frome, that means a 45-minute to an hour drive to the Royal United Hospital in Bath. The NHS needs to give guidance  – what should people do in this situation and in emergencies?”

After talking to Frome Times, the Crawley family were eventually successful in finding one EpiPen available at a pharmacy in Frome; and one Emerade device at a pharmacy in Warminster – fulfilling his requirement of two ‘in-date’ auto-injectable devices to deliver adrenaline but they still have serious concerns about supply in the future.

NHS England was approached for comment but a response was not received before the paper went to print.

One Response to Parent warns of shortage of life-saving EpiPens

  1. Dara

    September 12, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Epipens are available but require the prescription to be faxed to alliance healthcare. This is boots main supplier. Then the epicentre will arrive to store following day. Talk to boots!

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