EpiPen® is only for the immediate EMERGENCY TREATMENT of a SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION (also known as ANAPHYLAXIS). Your doctor or pharmacist will explain the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction so that you know when you must use an EpiPen®.
Q&A provided by EpiPen distributors, Mylan New Zealand
1. What is the current dating of Epipen stock in NZ?
Dating for stock supplied into the New Zealand market from Mylan New Zealand is as follows:
Mylan New Zealand is making every effort possible to ensure the NZ stock has the best possible dating available.
Epipen Trainer Pens are also available from pharmacies for those who wish to practice using the pen or to educate others on using Epipen. The Epipen Trainer Pen DOES NOT contain adrenaline or a needle. The cost of the Epipen Trainer Pen will vary across pharmacies but is likely to be approximately $12-15.00
2. What is the best dating possible on Epipen?The internal adrenaline capsule within Epipen is originally manufactured with a shelf life of 20 months. By the time stock is received into NZ however, the best dating most typically received will be between 12 & 15 months.
3. Why can there not be longer dating on the NZ Epipen stock?Epipen is imported from the United States. The internal capsule with the active ingredient (adrenaline) is produced in one manufacturing plant and then transferred & assembled into the pen device in another location and facility within The States. It is then shipped to Australia. Once received into Australia, the NZ stock requirement is reconsigned & shipped over to New Zealand. The time span between initial manufacturing /assembling and then receipt into NZ is an accumulation of transit times as well as the processes and protocols required to be followed at each point of the distribution chain.
4. Why can’t I return my Epipen that has a shorter date to my pharmacy and receive a longer dated replacement at no cost ?Because Epipen is a light & temperature sensitive product a returned pen represents a potential risk because neither your pharmacist, your doctor or the NZ supplier can be absolutely sure how or under what conditions the Epipen has been stored. This then means no-one can guarantee the effectiveness of the product. Without this guarantee of effectiveness the pen has to be destroyed ie: it cannot be used or sold to another person.
5. At what age should a child changed from Epipen Junior to Epipen Adult ?The point of change is NOT determined by age. It is based on the weight of the child. In New Zealand the Medsafe approved guidelines are that Epipen Junior is suitable for children 15-30kg. Once the child is over 30kg in weight, they should be changed over to Epipen Adult.
In Australia, the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) have slightly different guidelines and there are some specialist’s in New Zealand who choose to work with the ASCIA guidelines. The ASCIA guidelines state that Epipen Junior is suitable for children weighing 10-20kg and once the child is over 20kg in weight, an adult Epipen should be used.
Your doctor or allergy specialist will determine which pen is right for your child. If you are in doubt please contact your healthcare professional.
6. Why does Epipen cost so much?Firstly, Epipen is not funded by Pharmac therefore there is no patient subsidy available and users must pay the full price of the product.
Secondly, the apparent simplicity of the Epipen auto injector is deceptive. To the untrained eye it appears so simple & straightforward yet this device is break through technology.
The benefit of the Epipen auto-injection technology allows people all around the world the freedom to carry their adrenaline with them wherever they go. It also means they can feel reassured that they, their family and other caregivers could quickly and reliably administer the vital adrenaline should an anaphylactic episode take place.
Whilst it is true adrenaline ampoules are funded in NZ at a considerably cheaper price, it should be remembered there is a real skill in drawing up a syringe of adrenaline and then delivering the injection. Our healthcare professionals make it look so easy but this is a result of years of training and experience. For a non-trained person, faced with the stress of trying to self-administer or assist another, the risk of breaking the ampoule vial is extremely high. One then needs to draw up the solution via the needle, then quickly and confidently administer the injection. This all takes time and is no place for shaky hands. The Epipen auto-injector takes away these risks and the associated anxiety and, after suitable training, allows even a child to self-administer.
7. I used to be able to get $20.00 back on my purchase of Epipen – can I still do this?This was an offer the previous owner of Epipen ran during 2008. That offer has now expired and is no longer available.
8. Do I need a prescription to purchase Epipen?No, you do not require a prescription to purchase Epipen. Epipen is a Pharmacist Only Medicine. What this means is it can only be sold to you by a Pharmacist or other medically trained healthcare professional after an appropriate consultation.
9. Can my child’s school purchase Epipen from the NZ supplier to have on site in case it is needed?No, because Epipen is a Pharmacist Only medicine, an education facility is not able to proactively purchase Epipen direct from the NZ supplier. Should a school wish to investigate holding a few Epipen auto-injectors on site they should contact their local pharmacy or medical centre and discuss it with them.