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Parents advised to use out-of-date EpiPens, but call 999, as shortage continues

NHS England has written to parents and carers of children that use EpiPen Jr advising on them on what to do in the event of a severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction as the shortage of EpiPens continues.

The advice letter, sent on 15 October 2018, instructs parents and carers to give children their EpiPen even if the pen is out of date and they have not been able to get a new one. The letter also states that you should call 999 if you need to use a pen that is out of date.

“An out-of-date pen might give your child a lower dose of adrenaline but it is not dangerous and is better than no immediate treatment,” the advice explains.

EpiPen Jr contains 150μg of adrenaline and the letter says that GPs should prescribe a standard 300μg pen for children who weigh more than 25kg. It reassures parents that although the pen might say it is for people who weigh more than 30kg, it can be used safely for children who weigh above 25kg.

The letter, written by Aidan Fowler, national director of patient safety at NHS England, says that new stock of EpiPens is expected “in the next week”.

Pharmacists have faced EpiPen shortages since the product’s supplier, Mylan, highlighted a shortage of supply in May 2018.

In a further update in September 2018, Mylan confirmed that the lack of supply also affected EpiPen Jr. As a result, pharmacists were allocated products on a prescription-only basis, but could only place orders for two per prescription.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205600

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