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Doctors, Nurses Get Behind Free EpiPen® Initiative

Health professionals gave a huge thumbs up to Allergy New Zealand’s recent free EpiPen® campaign, according to the organisation’s Chief Executive Mark Dixon.

FundaPen™, which has recently ended with nearly 3,000 New Zealanders at risk of anaphylaxis receiving a free EpiPen®, was wholeheartedly supported by prescribers including General Practitioners and Nurse Specialists.

“Not one health professional we approached asked why they should support this initiative,” Dixon said. “They all asked ‘how’ they could support it. That ‘can-do’ attitude was critical and really demonstrated to us the overwhelming support for Epipens to be funded like any other essential medicine.”

Lifesaving EpiPen® (adrenaline autoinjector pens), which last only 12 – 18 months, are not currently funded by Pharmac and can cost between $120 and $350 each. Through the FundaPen™ campaign, which was made possible through a $300,000 Pub Charity donation, Allergy New Zealand was able to reach people who are least able to afford this lifesaving medicine. A total of 2,875 EpiPen® (adrenaline autoinjector pens), were distributed between November 2019 and July 2020.

“We have received so much support for FundaPen™ from prescribers and the allergy community, it has re- energised our push for adrenaline auto-injectors to be government funded,” Dixon said. “In Australia, people who are at risk of anaphylaxis, are now eligible for two funded adrenaline auto- injectors each year. In this country, none are funded, and the speed at which the free EpiPens were taken up under FundaPen™ demonstrates to us that there is significant unmet need.”

“Support from the allergy community was unbelievable,” Dixon said, “Our Facebook page received 100,000 hits in the first 24 hours, following the public launch. However, now the project has finished, the question turns to how do we meet the incredible need that FundaPen™ has highlighted?”

“We would love to work with the government and Pharmac to find a way to fund this lifesaving medicine. Until then we’ll keep battling for people with life threatening allergies, who really deserve a whole lot better than they are getting at the moment,” Dixon said.

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