The text of our letter to editor of The Daily Telegraph from our CEO Lynne Regent is below.
Dear Mr Evans,
I am the CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the only UK wide charity operating solely for the growing numbers of people at risk from severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.
I read with interest your article – “Half of children given EpiPens may not have allergies that require them” published on the 14th March and relating to the study published in the British Journal of General Practice.
Your article states: “The pens are supposed to only be used by those with egg, nut, seafood, insect venom allergies or a known history of anaphylaxis.”
This would appear to be a misinterpretation of the study, which actually states:
“Evidence for indication for AAI prescription was looked for by searching Read Codes for common food allergies, venom allergy, and some codes for anaphylaxis”.
Your article could be read as suggesting that adrenaline should only be used for egg, nut and seafood food allergies, whereas adrenaline is a lifesaving medication that should be prescribed for anyone at risk of a severe allergic reaction, no matter what the trigger allergen is. Indeed, your article does go on to state that “People thought to be at risk (of anaphylaxis) are prescribed pre-filled adrenaline autoinjectors (AAIs).
There are 14 major food allergens as defined by EU food allergen labelling legislation, including those listed in your article, but also including milk, soya, sesame and other major allergens. In addition, there are research studies describing anaphylactic reactions to most foods, including foods not on the European list, but to which an increasing number of patients are reacting. In particular, allergy to kiwi fruit and certain pulses are on the increase and can, in some individuals, trigger potentially life-threatening reactions. If these individuals are assessed as being at risk of severe reactions they may also need to be prescribed adrenaline injectors.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign offers information and support to those at risk of severe allergic reactions. We also offer online training for patients, parents and carers and healthcare professionals and work closely with healthcare professionals and the food industry. We have recently launched an innovative online pathway which aims to guide people who think they or their child has an allergy – http://aimallergy.co.uk/. We are also currently running campaigns to get spare adrenaline into all schools and also to raise the issues around living with severe allergy as an adult. Find out more www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.