20 Jul 19
The Scottish Sun
A MUM feared her four-year-old daughter with a severe nut allergy could die when she went into anaphylactic shock and her Emerade adrenaline pen failed to work.
Claire Flanagan, 42, said she was “completely freaking out” when her daughter Caoimhe had an allergic reaction to a Chicken Korma and her lips started to swell up, she began wheezing and turned red.
Caoimhe Flanagan, 4, who has a severe nut allergy, began wheezing and turned bright red after she ate a curry containing nuts
Claire Flanagan, 42, pictured with her four-year-old daughter Caoimhe whose Emerade pen failed to work
Panicking, mum-of-two Claire phoned an ambulance who told her she would need to use an adrenaline pen.
Claire, an accountant, pressed the needle hard into her daughter’s leg but it didn’t release.
She then had to make a frantic dash to hospital with her six-year-old son where doctors were able to deliver a dose of adrenaline.
Caoimhe’s mum has spoken out as she wants to make more parents aware of potentially faulty adrenaline pens.
Just last week the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned some Emerade adrenaline pens have blocked needles, so cannot deliver adrenaline.
It’s thought around two in every 1,000 pens are thought to be affected.
[quote credit=”Mum Claire Flanagan, 42, after her daughter, 4, went into anaphylactic shock”]She lay on the couch and then started wheezing, coughing and turning red[/quote]
Speaking to the Sun Online Claire said: “My daughter is allergic to cashew nuts which we knew as she’d had an anaphylactic episode when she was three. So we had been prescribed EpiPens.
“When she started school in September I realised there was a shortage of EpiPens so I got given Emerade ones which I didn’t think was any different. I didn’t realise it was a brand.
“On Wednesday night I bought a Chicken Korma which contained cashew nuts. That was my fault, I should have checked it better. But her lips starting swelling up and she said she didn’t feel well.
“She just lay on the couch and then started wheezing, coughing and turning red.”
Claire, from Weybridge in Surrey, phoned an ambulance who told her to use the Emerade pen.
She said: “I pressed it so hard into her leg it nearly pierced her skin but the needle didn’t release. She is terrified of adrenaline pens so to put her through trying to administer it and it then not working was traumatic.
“We then rushed to St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey because there was a consultant there who was aware of the issue with Emerade pens.
“I had taken it with me and she looked up the serial number on the pen I had and she said that serial number had been called out as faulty.
“But she only knew that because she was a medical professional. As a parent of someone who was using the pen, I had no idea.
“They then administered a different pen but by then she was really unwell and my son was there, so he saw it all.
“It’s just completely freaking me out. We’re going to Crete next Friday and I would have gone on that plane with that Emerade pen not knowing it was faulty. And I think she would be more susceptible to having anaphylactic shock when she’s in a foreign country where they cook differently.
“If I had taken that pen with me and had to rely on it there I’m pretty sure she would have died.”
Claire believes every parent must be made aware of the problems with Emerade pens.
She said: “I think the risk is enormous. I had no idea some of these pens weren’t working properly.
“There should have been some way of us being told automatically about the faulty pens. I don’t think I should have to read the news to find out. It’s just not good enough.”
The fault was first found in routine testing by the pens’ makers, Bausch & Lomb, in June last year, but it was believed to be extremely rare, affecting 1.5 per 10,000 pens.
Further testing led the company to now estimate the fault affects 2.3 pens per 1,000.
Patients are advised to follow the existing advice to carry two pens at all times.
[boxout headline=”Government advice for allergy sufferers who carry an adrenaline pen”]An adrenaline auto-injector is an injection device filled with adrenaline. You should use it to inject yourself if you have an anaphylactic reaction.
An anaphylactic reaction is a life-threatening allergic reaction which can happen very quickly. It can be set off by various triggers.
The most common triggers are certain foods, medicines, and wasp and bee stings.
An injection of adrenaline in the outer thigh is the best emergency, on-the-spot treatment for an anaphylactic reaction.
Every time you use an adrenaline auto-injector:
Call 999, ask for an ambulance and state ‘anaphylaxis’, even if you start to feel better
Lie flat with your legs up to keep your blood flowing. However, if you are having difficulty breathing, you may need to sit up to make breathing easier
If you are able to, seek help immediately after using your auto-injector. If possible, avoid being on your own while waiting for the ambulance
If you still feel unwell after the first injection, use your second injector to 15 minutes after the first
The MHRA advise you to always carry two adrenaline auto-injectors with you at all times and check the expiry date.
Charities said it was a “very difficult” time for patients.
All strengths of solution for Emerade pens could be affected; 150mcg, 300mcg and 500mcg solutions.
No batches are being recalled.
There are three brands of adrenaline pens available in the UK – Emerade, EpiPen and Jext – which can all be used to inject adrenaline to treat someone who is having a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.
Reactions can be triggered by certain foods, such as nuts, fish, milk and eggs, medicines and insect stings.
The MHRA said Bausch & Lomb had implemented “corrective actions”, and pens manufactured under the new procedures would come into the market this month.
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Lynne Regent, of the Anaphylaxis Campaign charity, said they were “not aware until last week that there was a risk of the Emerade auto-injector failing to deliver a dose of adrenaline from the syringe due to blockage of the needle”.
She said it was “a very difficult time for patients” who carry them.
And she added: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind all individuals who are prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector to always carry two devices at all times, to use your auto-injector at the first signs of anaphylaxis and to call 999, ask for an ambulance and say anaphylaxis.
A spokesman for Bausch & Lomb said: “MHRA’s statement sets out the situation very clearly and we welcomed it. We are working hard to rectify the situation along the lines set out by MHRA.
“We will then conduct a thorough investigation into the specifics of this incident.”
Claire pushed the Emerade pen hard into her daughter’s leg (pictured) but it didn’t work
Government health officials have issued a warning over Emerade adrenaline pens
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