Senior health service officials are examining ways to make potentially life-saving adrenaline shot epi-pens more widely available after the tragic death of a 14-year-old girl from a nut allergy last Christmas.
Health Minister Dr James Reilly revealed the move during his department’s quarterly update meeting with the cross-party Oireachtas health committee yesterday. Responding to concerns raised about the death of Emma Sloan on O’Connell Street last December, the minister said “common sense” could have ensured the teenager did not lose her life.
However, while Dr Reilly said existing rules prohibiting the sale of epi-pens to anyone without a prescription are there for a reason, he insisted the matter needs to be examined.
“My department is currently examining the feasibility, taking account of policy and patient safety considerations, of amending prescription regulations to facilitate wider availability of adrenaline [epi] pens in emergency situations,” Dr Reilly confirmed.
While he said there are “complex” issues that need to be examined further, he added that a “register to clearly identify the individuals who have an entitlement to supply or administer the adrenaline auto-injector” could make the product more widely available, “where it is safe and appropriate”.
The prescription restriction on the sale of epi-pens came to public attention last December after the tragic death of 14-year-old Emma Sloan on O’Connell Street in Dublin city.
The teenager died after going into anaphylactic shock due to a nut allergy.
While her mother sought help from a nearby pharmacy, she was told an epi-pen could not be sold to her as she did not have a prescription for the powerful medication and was not using it for herself.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland is currently taking part in a “statutory investigative process” to find out what exactly happened on the day Ms Sloan died.
Her mother, Caroline Sloan, attended the Oireachtas health committee to discuss the issue last month.
She has started a public campaign to make epi-pens more widely available in emergency situations.
Speaking last month she said: “Emma’s death was so avoidable. Had we had the correct information and education on her allergy, and access to an epi-pen, Emma would be with us today.”
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