Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health James Reilly that his department is now looking at making epi-pens more widely available.
Mr. Adams also commended the active campaign of Caroline Sloan whose daughter Emma died just before Christmas and who has been lobbying since then for epi-pens to be made more available.
Mr. Adams said:
“This is a welcome announcement by the Minister but having submitted many Parliamentary Questions on this issue over recent months it is important that the Minister provide more detail on his proposal.
“I want to commend the efforts of Caroline Sloan who I have met and support, to raise awareness around this important health issue.
“The Minister’s consultation process needs to be carried out speedily and positive decisions taken that can save lives.”
“Part of the process must be the Minister defining Anaphylaxis as a long term illness, under the Long Term Illness Scheme, as is the case with Diabetes, Haemophilia, Epilepsy and other diseases and medical conditions.
“I have also urged the Minister to introduce a scheme that will make Epi-pens available in schools, workplaces and other public places, similar to the provision of defibrillators, and for a scheme to be introduced to train volunteers as first responders.
“Defining anaphylaxis as a long term illness would allow those suffering from Anaphylaxis to access free drugs and medicines for the treatment of their condition. This scheme is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE), under Section 59 of the Health Act 1970".
Note to Editor
Just before Christmas Emma Sloan, a 14 year old girl died in O Connell Street after she inadvertently ate Satay sauce which contains nuts and went into anaphylactic shock. Her mother Caroline was refused an epi-pen by a pharmacy without a prescription. The young girl died a short distance from the pharmacy as her mother tried to bring her to a hospital.
Following this tragedy Gerry Adams wrote to the Minister for Health asking him about the availability of Epi-pens which would allow patients to self-administer adrenaline.
A Sinn Féin activist who has a child who suffers from Anaphylaxis has described it thus.
“Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction. It may start suddenly within seconds or minutes, or take a few hours to develop following contact with an allergen which is a substance that is capable of producing an allergic reaction. A severe anaphylactic reaction is sometimes known as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis can cause the blood pressure to drop quickly, resulting in fainting or even sustained loss of consciousness. It can also cause severe breathing difficulties.
This condition can be a life threatening illness that’s why patients usually carry two Epi-pens at all times. Every year we get a prescription to buy four new pens as we have to have two back up pens, under the current drugs payment scheme we get these for €144.00 as that is the maximum you can pay. The problem is that the life span of the pens can range from a few months to a year and then you have to get another prescription to purchase replacement pens. I was handed a pen Friday February 7th, and it’s out of date in May (a life span of 4 months).
This means I have to get another prescription to replace it. The chemist could only supply me with one pen as the pens where all recalled in January and are awaiting new batches which may have a longer life span".