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epi pensThis month sees Allergy Awareness Week starting on the 29th April. This years theme is Air Quality: the allergens around us and will focus on outdoor air quality

Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.

The common causes of anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, sesame seeds and kiwi fruit, although many other foods have been known to trigger anaphylaxis.  Non-food causes include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber), and certain drugs such as penicillin. In some people exercise can trigger a severe reaction – either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food or drugs (e.g. aspirin).

Whilst allergic reactions are covered on many of our standard first aid courses, we also offer a specific Anaphylaxis course that is 1 hour in duration. This course is aimed at those requiring a little more information and is often taught to staff teams where colleagues or children have anaphylaxis.

Our course programme employs a variety of teaching techniques to meet the needs of individual delegates and includes the following:

  • Identify common trigger factors
  • Recognise signs and symptoms
  • Treat anaphylaxis appropriately
  • Use an auto-injection device correctly
  • Administer intramuscular adrenaline 1:1000
  • Understand follow up management and treatment

The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder. In the 20 years to 2012, there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK. The percentage of children diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and eczema have both trebled over the last 30 years. In the UK, allergic diseases across all ages cost the NHS an estimated £900 million a year, mostly through prescribed treatments in primary care, representing 10% of the GP prescribing budget.

The World Allergy Organisation (WAO) estimate of allergy prevalence of the whole population by country ranges between 10 – 40%. Anaphylaxis-type reactions occur in approximately 1 in 1000 of the general population.

Acorn understands that medication training needs to take into consideration not only the needs of the child but also those of the staff team and others such as the LEA, OFSTED and Healthcare Professionals.

From 1st October 2017, the Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 now allow ALL schools in the UK to keep spare adrenaline auto injectors (AAI’s) for emergency use to be used for children who are at risk of anaphylaxis. For a parent of a child at risk from anaphylaxis, this represents an important reassurance that their child will have emergency treatment available on the school premises. Schools may wish to discuss with their community pharmacist the different AAI’s available and what is most appropriate for the age-group and needs of the school.

Since this law came in, there has been a national shortage of EpiPen’s. We have been keeping you up to date with any developments over the last year or so regarding their availability.

The latest update, dated 21st January 2019, is on the home page on the EpiPen website but in summary, over the last few months, product has continued to ship, and they are seeing improvement in patient’s ability to readily access both EpiPen 0.3mg and EpiPen 0.15mg in the UK.

Patients can present their prescription to a pharmacy to fulfil their prescription the same day, however you should check with your pharmacy to ensure that supply has been received and is available.

EpiPen Jr 0.15mg Adrenaline Auto-Injectors are currently available.

To help manage product availability on an ongoing basis until a steady supply resumes, pharmacies are allocated product on a prescription-only basis and can place orders for up to a maximum of two EpiPen Jr 0.15mg Adrenaline Auto-Injectors per prescription.

Patients should present their prescription to a pharmacy who will be able to place an order for up to a maximum of two EpiPen Jr 0.15mg Auto-Injectors per prescription.

Pharmacies are able to place orders for up to a maximum of two EpiPen Jr 0.15mg Adrenaline Auto-Injectors per prescription and should follow the Instructions for Pharmacists when placing orders.

A reminder that the extension of the use beyond the labelled expiry date for the nine lots of EpiPen 0.3mg listed above does not apply to any EpiPen Jr 0.15mg auto-injectors or any EpiPen 0.3mg lot numbers not specified. Please continue to adhere to the manufacturer’s expiry date labelled on any EpiPen 0.3mg not covered by the lot numbers listed on the website and all EpiPen Jr 0.15mg auto-injectors.

(Statistics provided by and further references provided by The Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and Anaphylaxis Campaign website)