There is a worldwide shortage of EpiPens, which is affecting individuals who have severe allergies that can cause anaphylactic reactions. The EpiPen is an auto-injection delivery system that administers a dose of adrenaline hormones which increases the heart rate and blood pressure and reverses the swelling of the airways. In cases of severe anaphylactic reactions, it can slow the allergic reaction and reverse its effects long enough to allow first responders to arrive or for a person to get to the hospital to receive further treatment.
According to recent articles by medical journals around the globe, the ongoing EpiPen shortage has hit the one-year mark with no end in sight. Numerous families around the globe, including many in Israel, are struggling to obtain the self-administering injection devices, which they have come to rely upon.
While the EpiPen is just one kind of auto-injection device that delivers set doses of epinephrine, it has long been one of the most popular and well-known auto-injectors of choice. In part, this is due to the EpiPen being widely accepted by schools as well as many other institutions, something that has made it the standard that most teachers and staff are trained on. The shortage doesn’t only apply to the EpiPen devices but other auto-injection devices are in short supply as well.
“Purchasing an EpiPen or similar device in Israel costs upwards of $66. For a set of two devices needed by an EMT, one for an adult and one for a child, the cost is approximately $120,” explained Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah, which is Israel’s largest fully volunteer EMS service. “The devices are prohibitively expensive and they expire in 15 months or less. What makes purchasing and equipping our network of 5,000 volunteer first responders with EpiPens is that there simply aren’t enough of them on the market in Israel. We would need to make an order that size from abroad, which would increase the cost even more.”
Currently, the organization provides the devices to the most active volunteers or those volunteers who are trained at the paramedic level or above and considered to be Advanced Life Support (ALS) responders.
“We need a lot of help to be able to purchase these life-saving devices so that each volunteer can be equipped with an EpiPen or similar device,” said Beer. “This life-saving tool can very easily mean the difference between life and death for a patient who needs it.”
Beer added: “As it is well known, our entire organizational budget comes solely from donations. So I am asking the public to help us achieve this goal of purchasing the required number of devices so that our volunteers can have the tools they need to save lives. Since January 1st, United Hatzalah has received 1062 calls for allergies and only a handful of the medics had an EpiPen on them. Our volunteers respond to emergencies every day where these devices are needed. We need to have enough of a supply to be able to equip them all so that when one gets used, we will be able to supply an additional device to the volunteer for future emergencies. This is a big undertaking that we are working towards in the next year and we need your help to get to make this a reality.”