At an event at the European Parliament this week, Medicines for Ireland, the representative association for generic and biosimilar suppliers in Ireland, will highlight to legislators, policy makers and healthcare stakeholders a unified policy on allergies and anaphylaxis could result in less admissions to hospital and decrease the threat to life for sufferers as a direct consequence of anaphylaxis.

Hosted by Mairead McGuinness MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, the event will bring together leading experts to review the existing policy environment in respect of allergies and anaphylaxis, and debate a number of core reforms that will better improve the lives of allergy sufferers, including enhanced access to adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) in an emergency.

Food allergy is a growing public health concern, affecting more than 17 million people in Europe. It is a leading cause of anaphylaxis in children aged 0 – 14, with research indicating a sharp increase in hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in children – 7-fold – over the last 10 years.

Patient advocacy groups argue that the prescription of emergency medication must be encouraged to protect allergy sufferers who are at risk of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
However, in most European countries a prescription is required to carry an AAI and is only usually prescribed once someone has suffered a severe allergic reaction.
Medicines for Ireland, as part of its ‘Responding to public health challenges of anaphylaxis through public policy’’ event, will debate why an EU-wide strategy is needed to improve the health and quality of life of allergy and anaphylaxis sufferers, including better access to AAIs.

“We know that in an emergency, rapid access to medicine is a matter of life and death,” said Owen McKeon of Medicines for Ireland. “That there is not a unified policy on the prevention and management of allergies and anaphylaxis, despite food allergy affecting more than 17 million people and growing, should be of genuine concern to healthcare professionals and national health systems across Europe.

“We are calling on all advocates – legislators, policy makers, healthcare professionals and patients – to implement the necessary reforms and regulation that improves the health and quality of life of food allergy sufferers. We have seen first-hand that the wider availability of adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) in the community is achievable. However, without adequate policy, prevention and treatment is varied and access to adrenaline in an emergency is limited.”

Countries like Ireland are leading the way when it comes to better access and wider availability.
This follows the death of Dublin teenager in 2013, when the former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar – now Irish Prime Minister – introduced legislation that broadened the capacity for public access to adrenaline in emergency situations by allowing trained members of the public to administer AAIs where required.

“We believe that all Member States should follow Ireland’s lead in protecting allergy sufferers who are at risk of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis,” said Mr McKeon. “This starts with implementing a number of core reforms, which we will consider, discuss and debate with international experts at our event this week.”
Among those speaking at the event include Professor Dr Antonella Muraro, Past-President of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).

Also speaking is Professor Dr Margitta Worm, Head of Allergy and Immunology at Charité Hospital in Berlin, and Irish consultant allergist, Dr Ranbir Kaulsay of the Bon Secours Consultants Clinic and Beacon ENT & Allergy Clinic.

Medicines for Ireland’s broad objective is to support pathways for policymakers and clinicians to work together to develop proposals to advance the core objective of increasing access to emergency medicines to those who need it most, when they need it most.