By Kelley Lindberg
I heard a surprising and disturbing statistic 2 weeks ago when I was at the Mylan Specialty Allergy Bloggers Summit:
Only 5% of allergy patients are still refilling their prescriptions for EpiPens three years after their last reaction.
That’s scary. The speculation is that the farther you get from your last reaction, the less likely you are to think about it, so the less likely you are to take it seriously.
Really? To me, that’s kind of like someone who drives for three years without a traffic accident, so they stop wearing a seatbelt. Then maybe they stop using their turn signals. Then they stop braking at stoplights. I mean, hey – they’ve been just fine for three years, so obviously all those traffic rules and safety precautions were unnecessary, right?
If you’re vigilant for three years and nothing bad happens, does that mean the danger no longer exists? Or that your vigilance kept you safe?
That’s a no-brainer, right? It usually means that your vigilance kept you safe.
Unfortunately, it’s when you stop being vigilante that you discover just how important your vigilance was. And then it’s too late to get it back.
If you haven’t had an allergic reaction in three years, fantastic! That’s great, and it means you’ve been careful – and probably lucky, too. It doesn’t necessarily mean your allergy has vanished, or that anaphylaxis has suddenly disappeared from the planet. (Wouldn’t that be great, though?) It just means that you’ve managed to navigate your way through the minefield of a food-filled world safely for three years. It doesn’t mean that you won’t step on that landmine tomorrow. Or next month. Or three more years from now.
Even if you’re crazy-careful, accidents still happen. You sit down at a table with a peanut-butter smear you didn’t notice. Your favorite brand of cookie suddenly contains egg for the first time EVER, and it was the one time you didn’t think to read the ingredients. The kid at the next table drops his lunch tray and splatters your milk-allergic child with milk. The pasta dish you’ve ordered at your favorite restaurant for years suddenly contains sliced almonds because the chef got an adventurous urge to jazz things up a bit.
And those accidents are why we need to carry our epinephrine auto-injectors every day, everywhere. Yes, be careful. Yes, read labels. Yes, avoid eating risky foods. But don’t assume that will be enough. You can control your own actions, but you can’t control the people around you, and they cause accidents, too. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that at least half of all food allergy reactions are probably caused by the actions of other people (on airplanes, in restaurants, in school cafeterias, at soccer games, etc.).
So refill and carry those epinephrine auto-injectors. Not because you’re careless. But because you’re careful.
To help make it easier to remember to refill that prescription, Mylan has a nifty app for smartphones that helps you track your EpiPens and get reminders when they’re expiring. Called “My EpiPlan,” the app can also show a how-to training video, display tips and articles about managing allergies, and store your allergy profile to show medical professionals. The My EpiPlan app is available on iTunes and Google Play.
Don’t have time to refill your prescription? Remember, it takes less time to get a refill than it does to go to the ER when you’re in anaphylactic shock. I’m just sayin’.
And right now, you can still get your EpiPens for $0 co-pay (up to $100) by going to the EpiPen website, printing the coupon, and taking it to your pharmacy with a valid prescription. Click here for more info: EpiPen® $0 Co-Pay Offer.
[I disclose in any communication made by me about EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector and/or the Mylan Spcialty Blogger Summit that such communication is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion. I also disclose that my travel expenses were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.]