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Food allergies and EpiPens: The latest news and research

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Peanut and food allergies can be stressful for parents and patients. The skyrocketing EpiPen price tag has outraged parents and pediatricians, and many families may be unsure about their options. John Lee, MD, clinical director of the Food Allergy Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, shares his insights on the EpiPen price increase and and offers updates on peanut allergy research.

What you need to know about EpiPen now

  • Cost
    • EpiPen recently raised its commercial price to $600 for a standard twin pack. For families with no insurance or high-deductible plans, this can pose some serious challenges. However, the good news is there are a few strategies for lowering the cost.
      • Parents can go to Epipen.com, and download a free, reusable, discount card for up to $300 off a prescription.
      • Mylan, EpiPen’s parent company, has an EpiPen assistance program for families with incomes up to four times above the poverty line.
      • Adrenaclick is an alternatives to EpiPen. Although it has the same epinephrine doses as EpiPen, the mechanism is slightly different. Most school nurses and staff are not trained on Adrenaclick, so it is important to talk to a child’s school nurse before choosing this option.
      • EpiPen has announced it will release a generic model at half the current retail price sometime this fall.
  • New instructions
    I always remind parents to make sure there are unexpired EpiPens with their child’s name at school. Schools typically ask for two injectors that won’t expire during the school year (EpiPens last about one year).
    Parents should also review their child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan, and be sure to understand the written plan they give to the school.
    • EpiPen recently updated its instructions, because there were numerous reports of kids suffering lacerations in their legs. It’s important for parents to note the changes.
      • Step 1: Stabilize the patient’s leg to minimize movement.
      • Step 2: Hold the EpiPen against the thigh for three seconds.
      • Step 3: Monitor for signs of infection at the injection site.

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Can peanut allergy be prevented?

peanuts peanut allergy preventionOn Boston Children’s Hospital’s Thriving blog, allergist John Lee, MD, clinical director of the hospital’s Food Allergy Program, responds to a worried parent’s question about whether it’s possible to keep her baby from developing a peanut allergy.

He cites the recently-published Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study, which compared the effects of peanut consumption and avoidance strategies in children at risk for developing a peanut allergy.

“The results of this study were more successful than anyone had ever thought they would be,” Lee says, “and are changing how we approach prevention of food allergies.”

Read the full story on Thriving.

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