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Tragic death inspires push to get lifesaving EpiPens in public places

An online petition has been started by a councillor who was horrified by the death of a teenage girl in Dublin.

Image: EpiPen via Shutterstock

A PUSH IS underway to get the potentially life-saving EpiPens and other epinephrine (adrenaline) drug pens available in Irish restaurants, workplaces and public places.

It comes months after a 14-year-old Dublin girl passed away after going into anaphylactic shock from unknowingly eating satay sauce (which contains peanuts). She had been unable to get an ephinephrine pen from a chemist as she did not have her prescription.

‘We were very upset by it’

Ennis councillor, Paul O’Shea was so affected by the news of the young teen’s death that he has set up a campaign to get these devices available in public places around Ireland.

I have five kids, and a daughter who was the same age as [the teen].

We were discussing it after Christmas and were very upset by it.

He noted that food allergies are estimated to affect 25 per cent of the population in Ireland.

O’Shea said he has received support from the outgoing Chairman of the Irish Federation Hotel Industry, Michael Vaughan, and chairman of the Irish Restaurant Association, Adrian Cummins, in his push to get the pens brought into premises that serve food.

EpiPens and similar devices are used in the case of anaphylactic shock, which can be brought on by allergies, for example to foods such as nuts, shellfish, or eggs.

O’Shea told TheJournal.ie he has received much support for his campaign and that he hopes to meet with the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, on the issue.

He said that he has contacted teachers’ unions the INTO and TUI to find out how feasible it would be to provide such pens in schools.

Long-term illness

Yesterday, Sinn Féin party leader Gerry Adams called on the Minister for Health to define anaphylaxis as a long term illness, under the Long Term Illness Scheme, as is the case with diabetes, epilepsy and other diseases and conditions.

He has also urged the establishment of a state-wide education programme to alert people to the dangers of anaphylaxis.

In addition, he has, like Cllr O’Shea, asked the Minister to look at introducing a scheme to make EpiPens available in schools, workplaces and other public places.

Adams said this could be “similar to the provision of defibrillators” and that a scheme could be introduced to train volunteers as first responders.

Defining Anaphylaxis as a long term illness would allow those suffering from it to access free drugs and medicines for the treatment of their condition.

Minister Reilly recently told Adams that adrenaline pens, as injectable medicines, are prescription-only under EU law and may only be supplied to someone who has a valid prescription.

However, there is provision in the current Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003 (as amended) which permits pharmacists, in emergency circumstances, to supply certain prescription only medicines without a prescription.

His department is “considering a review of the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003″.

Read: Appeal for Irish to take part in global food allergy study>

Read: Emergency allergic reaction pens found to be defective>

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