September 16th, 2016

Reminder to parents and caregivers – check the date of your auto-injectors for Back to School

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If you or your child has severe allergies, an auto-injector such as EpiPen is a lifeline for potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment is critical for children with severe allergies now back at school.

At London Drugs, the price for EpiPen remains constant and the important allergy medication is fully stocked at all of our 78 stores.

For children with severe allergies, the start of a new school year is an important time to check expiry dates and update their prescriptions, including any anaphylactic medications. Our London Drugs pharmacists suggest parents ensure they have an emergency plan in place, after a study found a ‘worrisome increase’ in anaphylaxis cases among children.

The study revealed that the percentage of emergency department visits due to anaphylaxis doubled over the four-year research period. Only slightly more than half of children in the study who visited the emergency department due to anaphylaxis used an auto-injector prior to their arrival.

“While awareness in schools about severe allergies has grown, there is a lag in understanding when it comes to using auto-injectors such as EpiPen,” says London Drugs Pharmacist Jason Chan-Remillard. “Parents, caregivers and teachers should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to initiate treatment. Understanding how to administer epinephrine in an emergency is just as important as other lifesaving skills like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.”

Parents of children with severe allergies should work with teachers and caregivers at the start of each school year to create an action plan with an explanation of the child’s allergy triggers, what to do in case of reaction, where they have access to epinephrine and how to administer emergency anaphylactic treatment.

“It’s especially important for lunchroom personnel to be aware of children’s health status. Often times, that requires the parents to speak with them directly about their child’s allergy triggers,” adds Chan-Remillard.

There is sometimes a misconception that peanuts are the only trigger for severe food allergies. In actuality there are nine food allergens commonly associated with allergic reactions; eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, sesame seeds, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, wheat and other cereal grains that contain gluten.

Epinephrine auto-injectors expire so it’s important to check dates and update prescriptions when necessary. Expired auto-injectors can be properly disposed of in the sharps disposal bin at London Drugs pharmacies and our pharmacists can provide re-education about how to self-administer EpiPen.

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