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  1. ITV Report

Devon mum fears for her allergic children as EpiPen shortage continues

Katie Hannaford says she is worried about how a shortage of EpiPens might affect her children. Credit: ITV News West Country

People at risk of dangerous allergic reactions are being urged to keep hold of their adrenaline pumps even if they're out of date because medication is currently in short supply.

There has been a shortage of EpiPens for more than a year now, with no indication when the supply will improve.

Dispensing guidelines have even changed allowing patients to use the pumps beyond their expiry date.

Katie's two children have serious allergies. Credit: ITV News

Reading labels on food packaging has become second nature for Katie Hannaford as both of her children have severe allergies.

But it's become even more important to stay protected as the supply of drugs that could potentially save their lives if they have an anaphylactic reaction is in short supply.

It's been an issue since last year and Katie says they have made work arounds with their pharmacist to ensure they have some protection - but she feels this is not enough.

The shortage is being blamed on manufacturing problems. Credit: ITV News

The NICE clinical guidelines now state that you should have two. When my son lost his whole EpiPen kit, as does happen sometimes, we were only able to source one. It's not ideal at the moment, but we are able to get hold of something rather than nothing. It's just not really good enough to not have that extra layer of protection. We do our very best to avoid situations, but the statistics show around ten people a year die from a severe anaphylactic reaction.

– Katie Hannaford
Experts are urging people to make sure they are protecting themselves. Credit: AP

There is a global shortage of a number of drugs at present. On the first page of its website Epipen has the latest information about the shortage but it hasn't been updated since June. Like other drugs that are in short supply, manufacturing problems are being blamed.

The Anaphylaxis Campaign is urging people to make sure they are protecting themselves.

Don't get rid of your old expired pen until you have your new adrenaline injector, and if you find you are having an anaphylactic reaction, always use your injector and then call 999.

– Lynne Regent, CEO Anaphylaxis Campaign
Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Credit: ITV News
  • Certain batches of adult EpiPen can be safely used for four months after the expiry date has passed
  • Do not dispose of expired devices until you have replaced them. They’re highly likely to still have some effect.
  • If switched to alternative device than Epipen due to shortage. Be aware that different brands of adrenaline auto-injectors are not used in exactly the same way and therefore specific training and advice is required for each of the devices. This can be done by your pharmacist, practice nurse and there are videos online.
  • Junior devices should only be dispensed to children who weigh less than 30kg, the adult pens are suitable for those who weigh more
  • Ambulances carry adrenaline that is not affected by shortages

Pharmacists are able to offer adrenaline pens to people, but they are expecting a backlog of patients in August and September.

They are validating all prescriptions to try to make sure that they don't have a situation where one person has two adrenaline pumps and another has none.

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