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National shortage of life-saving EpiPens hits local allergy sufferers

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A local mum says she is left unnerved after the national shortage of EpiPens has affected local pharmacies. The EpiPens would treat her daughter who has a severe egg allergy. The pharmacies say there is no date available as to when stock levels will be resolved.

Her daughter relies on EpiPen Jr in case of an allergic  reaction, which could be potentially life-saving. However, there is currently a national shortage from wholesalers ‘Mylan UK’, who are struggling with stock levels across the country. 

Before the shortage, two EpiPens would have been provided to her school (which is a requirement by the school) and two EpiPens at home in case of an emergency. The expiry date of her current EpiPens passed last month.

The mum told Melksham News, “I was told by Gompels at Spa Medical Centre that it is unlikely I will be given the four pens my daughter usually gets, but  they will try to provide me with two. Hopefully Gompels will be able to get her two EpiPens, which isn’t ideal but we can manage with that, but if they aren’t able to get any, it will be very worrying. 

“I am very careful anyway to check the labels of everything she comes into contact with to make sure nothing contains any egg, but it will be very unnerving if she hasn’t got any treatment available in case of a severe reaction.”

Stephanie Hunt, pharmacy manager at Gompels at Spa Medical Centre said, “We are experiencing the same problems as all pharmacies across the country as there is only one wholesaler for both EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. The advice that has been agreed by the wholesaler and the NHS is to use your EpiPen for an expended expiry period of four months, but this does not apply to the EpiPen Jr. 

“The shortage has been said to last until December and no pharmacy can guarantee stock; it all is done through calling the wholesalers to ask about stock there and then. We have to deal with the shortage the same as any other pharmacy, but are trying to obtain what we can for the patient.”

In a statement released on 27th September,  the wholesaler of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr, Mylan UK said, “We appreciate how important it is for individuals with life-threatening allergies to have access to adrenaline auto-injectors and understand the challenges this situation continues to pose for patients.

“We will continue to proactively and diligently update pharmacies, healthcare professionals and patient advocacy groups across the country regarding any changes in stock availability.”

At a time of EpiPen shortage, cases of severe food allergies and food labelling have been hitting the headlines of the national press.

 Just this week, it was revealed that a woman who is believed to have died following an allergic reaction after eating at Pret a Manger in Bath, was from Melksham. 

Celia Marsh, 42, died in December after eating a ‘super-veg rainbow flatbread’ containing a yoghurt which was supposed to be dairy-free but was later found to have traces of dairy protein. 

Pret a Manger says it was mis-sold a guaranteed dairy-free yoghurt from their supplier, Coyo, but the company denied that its yoghurt caused her death, saying the ‘true cause’ of Celia Marsh’s death has not yet been established

Pret has ended its relationship with Coyo and is understood to be taking legal action. A full inquest into the death of Celia Marsh has not yet taken place, but her family says they want to have answers to what happened.

A hearing is currently also taking place into the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who died  after eating an airport Pret a Manger baguette. She collapsed on a British Airways flight from London to Nice on 17 July 2016 after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette she bought at Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5.

The baguette did not have any allergen advice on its wrapper but there was no requirement for it to do so because of reduced labelling requirements for food produced on site. The coroner has expressed concern about food labelling and Pret has said that from next month, it will start trialling full ingredient labelling.

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