herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Emma mum in push for more allergy Epipens

14 year old Emma Sloan.
14 year old Emma Sloan.
Caroline Sloan
Emma Sloan

The grieving mother of nut allergy victim Emma Sloan is urging parents to press for life-saving medicines to be made more widely available.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has just launched a public consultation process on whether to make a number of prescription-only medicines used in emergency situations more widely available, including EpiPens which are used to treat allergic shock.

It is a move that has been welcomed by Caroline Sloan, whose daughter Emma (14) died in Dublin's O'Connell Street in December 2013, having suffered anaphylactic shock brought on by a peanut allergy.

The grieving mum has since campaigned for wider availability of life-saving EpiPen injections to help people with potentially fatal food allergies.

The development comes after a date was set for next month for the inquest into Emma's death at Dublin Coroner's Court.

Commenting on the announcement of the public consultation process by Mr Varadkar, Caroline said she would urge anybody who has an allergy, or has children with allergies, to put in their reasons for these medicines to be made more widely available.

trained

"It could potentially save lives," she said. "I also think EpiPens should be available in schools, and teachers should be trained in using them because that is where many kids have their first reaction.

"It is all right saying it is up to the parents to leave the EpiPen into the school, but what if they don't know the child has the allergy? This is what happens. It is so sudden, and it is so fatal. All schools should be trained, and hold EpiPens."

Caroline said hospitals also need to alert parents that children can die from these allergies.

The new Department of Health consultation process will gather views on whether the existing prescription-only arrangements for certain medicines should be improved or relaxed, including adrenaline auto-injectors for the treatment of anaphylaxis and allergic shock.

Among the other medicines under consideration are salbutamol for the treatment of conditions such as asthma, glucagon for the treatment of diabetic hypoglycemia, and naloxone for the treatment of heroin overdoses.

The consultation process will also consider whether non-medical people should have ready access to prescription-only medicines for use in emergency situations while ensuring the medicines continue to be controlled in an appropriate manner.

The HSE is preparing a pilot project for this year to make naloxone available to family members, friends and support staff of registered heroin users.

Mr Varadkar said these rescue medicines can mean the difference between life and death if they are used in the right way at the right time.

"However, they can also cause harm if used without proper training, or in the wrong circumstances," he said.

He hopes to make a policy decision, after receiving a wide variety of views, and implement it this year.

fdillon@ herald.ie

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