A funding boost is set to provide free EpiPens to 2500 children at risk of serious allergic reactions.

Allergy New Zealand CEO Mark Dixon told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking they are joining forces with Pub Charity to fund the EpiPens for those most in need.

He said they have made numerous attempts to have the pens publicly funded by Pharmac.

Pharmac haven’t chosen to put a higher priority on it even though EpiPens cost between $120 and $350 each, Dixon explained.

He added that they have been waiting 15 years for the pens to be publically funded – the longest waiting medicine on Pharmac’s list.

“Those living in a first world country should expect that children would have this medicine provided as part of the health policy,” he said.

Despite being a good step forward, Pub Charity’s funding will only provide EpiPens to a fraction of those who need them.

There has been outrage at rising costs of the EpiPen brand in the United States, after Mylan Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to the anaphylaxis treatment in 2007, boosting the price from US$93 ($139.29) for two injectors to more than US$600.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand allergy community has been “buzzing” at the prospect of cheaper life-saving adrenaline auto-injectors after the approval of a generic version in the United States.

The devices contain adrenalin, which is injected through a spring-loaded needle into the muscle of the leg, and are used to treat potentially life‑threatening allergic reactions.

In August, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first generic version of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto-injector, produced by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

The FDA said it would give patients a lower-cost option and help protect against potential drug shortages.

While there had been no application yet to Medsafe in New Zealand to register it here, Dixon previously told the Herald that the potential was “exciting”.

“As you can imagine a lot of families currently simply can’t afford them. Allergy families carry the full burden as there is no government support.”




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