Government urged to introduce legislation to allow life-saving initiative

UCC plans to have life-saving EpiPens available on campus for emergencies

Prof Jonathan Hourihane said the UCC First Responder Anaphylaxis Autoinjector Programme was suspended in 2011 over concerns about administering a prescription-only medicine to a person who had not had that medicine prescribed.  Photograph: Thinkstock

Prof Jonathan Hourihane said the UCC First Responder Anaphylaxis Autoinjector Programme was suspended in 2011 over concerns about administering a prescription-only medicine to a person who had not had that medicine prescribed. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

The Government is being urged to legislate for a potentially life-saving anaphylaxis pilot initiative at an Irish university.

Allergy expert Prof Jonathan Hourihane, of Cork University Hospital, and Dr Michael Byrne, head of UCC’s Student Health Department, yesterday called on the Joint Committee of Health and Children to address the problem.

Prof Hourihane, head of the department of paediatrics and child health, described anaphylaxis as a severe life-threatening generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction commonly triggered by food, drugs and venom.

Last December, Emma Sloan (14), who had a peanut allergy, died after she inadvertently ate a nut-based sauce in a Dublin restaurant. She had a severe reaction and was unable to access an EpiPen with life-saving adrenaline.

Prof Hourihane said the UCC First Responder Anaphylaxis Autoinjector Programme was suspended in 2011 over concerns about administering a prescription-only medicine to a person who had not had that medicine prescribed and that this legal vacuum had to be addressed by a ministerial order or statutory instrument.

Staff saved life

“We were going to pilot 10 sites around food outlets on college with some 20 EpiPens and we had over 80 people trained and ready to go.”

Dr Byrne said that with a 2 per cent incidence rate, there could be 320 people among the 16,000 students with a food allergy.

He said that in his eight years at UCC, staff had saved at least one life through the administration of adrenaline.