As many will know, there is rising concern over the national shortage of Adrenaline Auto-Injectors – the devices best known by their brand names, such as EpiPen, Emerade and Jext, which are the first and only port of call in the event of a serious anaphylactic reaction. Many families are finding it impossible to fulfil their prescriptions. On @allergyhour over on Twitter last week we put some questions to chief executive of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, Lynne Regent. Here are her responses below:
Q: How long before expiry should we request more auto-injectors from our GP?
Lynne: One month
Q: Aside from those EpiPens granted an increased four month usage beyond their expiry dates, in an emergency how long are expired EpiPens OK before we can no longer use them?
Lynne: The activity of Adrenaline Auto-Injectors does reduce after the expiry date, however they are safe to use beyond expiry unless the liquid is discoloured and contains particles – then it should be discarded. If in doubt please ask your pharmacy to check with you.
Q: Schools are refusing out of date pens. How can we work to allow schools to use/keep expired EpiPens until the supply issues are resolved?
Lynne: Schools may require a letter from a GP or a pharmacy to explain the circumstances. If you have any difficulties please contact our helpline on 01252 542 029.
Q: My chemist has no pens in stock. What should I do?
Lynne: You may need to revisit your GP to ask if they can prescribe an alternative medication, and call the customer service lines for the pharmaceutical companies. For full details see our statement.
Q: The situation seems to be getting worse before it gets better. What is the time frame for all unfulfilled prescriptions to be filled and full stock to be returned?
Lynne: We are unsure when stock levels will return to normal. We will continue to be in contact with the Department of Health, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] and the pharmaceutical industry for the most up-to-date information.
Q: We know Brexit may further complicate things. What are the contingency plans?
Lynne: We can’t answer this question on Twitter – it is a complex question that requires a wide-ranging debate.
Q: Will the approval of a new generic EpiPen in the US ease the situation over here? Will it be available in the UK?
Lynne: To our knowledge no requests have been made to get another adrenaline auto injector licensed in the UK.
Q: What should people who have no pens, and can’t get any from their pharmacist, do?
Lynne: Call the customer service lines for the pharmaceutical companies – full details on our statement.
Q: What is the Department of Health doing to work with you at the Anaphylaxis Campaign?
Lynne: We have been in direct contact regarding the availability of Adrenaline Auto-Injectors in the UK and they are working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the pharmaceutical industry to manage the situation.
Q: Why are some batches of EpiPen OK to have their expiry dates extended where others are not?
Lynne: Mylan UK have obtained acceptance from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to extend the use of specific lot numbers following rigorous testing.
Join @allergyhour every Thursday, 8.30-9.30pm, for the chance to share recipes, thoughts and info about living and coping with allergies.