Epipen prescriptions on the rise for children with allergies

Prescriptions of adrenaline auto injectors, commonly known as ‘epipens,’ for children with allergies have increased greatly in the last decade, according to a study published March 13 in the British Journal of General Practice.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham studied a database of patient records from over 500 general practices from 2000 to 2012. They found that nearly 24,000 children at risk of anaphylaxis, or an acute allergic reaction, were prescribed epipens. The number of children identified at risk increased three and a half times and the total number of devices prescribed in the UK increase five times, with nearly four devices a year prescribed per child. Recent guidelines suggest that each child should have, at most, two devices.
“Of course, adrenaline auto injectors are life-saving for those at a high risk of anaphylaxis,” Dr. Lavanya Diwaker, one of the study authors, said. “But, current prescribing trends would appear to be wasteful.”
According to the study, the cost of epipen renewals to taxpayers in the UK could be as much as £7 million a year, or about $8.6 million. The researchers hope that this study will lead to discussions on how to manage serious allergies in a more efficient way.
Funding was provided by the Wellcome Trust, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands.
Written by: Katherine Heighway | Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.