The EpiPen has been in the news over the past few years. There is good news and bad news. The Bravo news is a recent television commercial for the EpiPen and the development of a future Epipen in pill form! The Boo news is the skyrocketing costs for the EpiPen!

We cannot ignore the high cost. What has caused an uproar is related to the high pricing with pricing surging up to fourfold! Further complications occur by the need to have more than one EpiPen available, should it be needed for an emergency.

It is the antidote used to halt an anaphylactic reaction to a food, liquid or insect bite. The EpiPen injection is temporary, lasting for one hour, until a hospital visit for medical attention to stabilize the reaction. This reality underlines the importance of going straight to the hospital for immediate medical assistance.

To anyone with a severe allergic reaction, this importance can best be illustrated by the analogy: insulin is to a diabetic person as the EpiPen is to the allergic person. The need for government control and standards is imperative to ensure that EpiPens are available and affordable to all who need it. The availability of free EpiPen under medicare is needed to ensure that the meed is met.

*On a personal note, some twenty years ago, when our first EpiPen was purchased, there was a different EpiPen “universe“. In this universe, an EpiPen was under $30 and the shelf life was 1 1/2 – 2 years. Further, you could visually see, from the side window of the EpiPen, whether it was good or had expired. In the words of the allergy doctor at that time: “If the liquid is clear, it’s good. If the liquid is cloudy, then it has expired. This was comforting to those new to the severe allergy world, this being me the mom, my child and our family!

Now for the good news. Bravo to the launching of an informational, commercial recreated for viewing on major Canadian and U.S. networks!! This is BIG, as any parent or person with a severe food allergy knows all too well, the feeling when EpiPen use is required. There is the absolute need to retrieve the EpiPen, followed by the required prompt use.

The most powerful part of the instructional commercial is that the person suffers a severe allergic reaction, followed by taking the EpiPen out of the jacket pocket (òrange to the thigh, blue to the sky) and applies the dose into the thigh. The visual representation of the use of the EpiPen is POWERFUL. Why? Well, most ordinary people, who might be required or asked to apply the EpiPen when needed, can very well panic or just say `What do I do? or “I don`t know how to use it”.

The fact that the person is an adult male gives everyone a lesson that severe allergic reactions can happen to anyone and not just children and teenagers. The beginning of the commercial shows the family on their way out of the house, prior to leaving for the restaurant, is important. The adult male is the last one out and just before leaving, turns back to retrieve his EpiPen from the shelf and into his jacket pocket.

It is so important, just as any mother with allergic children knows, to teach that before leaving the house, one must have their backpack/purse/keys and their EpiPen. In short, you don`t go anywhere without your EpiPen! This commercial has great potential to educate everyone and increase confidence in use, whether by the allergic individual or someone else who may be required to promptly apply the EpiPen.

A second bravo goes to the research currently underway to develop an EpiPen in a pill form. This is exciting and will facilitate use of the EpiPen, both for the user and the person assisting. The pill is being developed by researchers at Nova SW University in Florida (Allergen Bureau, Feb.2017). The pill still being tested will be in a tablet form that can be dissolved under the tongue. It is also expected to have a longer shelf life than the EpiPen injector. The pill is an obvious advance to the current injector, seen by many as not user friendly, especially those who might choose to drive to the hospital instead of using the injector on themselves.

In closing, we know that the EpiPen is a necessity for severe allegic reactions. Affordability, accessibility and education will all serve to protect those who need it. The Government, at all levels must work to ensure that these key areas are met.