Life-saving technology sourced overseas
Pharmac 'not putting any value' on kids' livesKELSEY FLETCHER
Carrying an EpiPen is like knowing there is always a lifesaver at hand for Palmerston North mother Natalie Revesz-Sidnam.
Her two sons, Reid, 19 months, and Lewis Sidnam, 3, both have a variety of food allergies which could induce an extreme reaction called anaphylactic shock.
Eating or drinking milk, nuts, wheat, eggs and even some vegetables could mean one of the boys requires a shot of adrenaline to reverse the allergic reaction.
But EpiPens or AnaPens, adrenaline auto injectors, are not funded by Pharmac and expire every year.
Ms Revesz-Sidnam, who co-ordinates the Manawatu Allergy Support Group, said $130 minimum for one auto injector was manageable for a working family.
But having to get two every year has forced them to look at buying online from Britain for half the price.
"There have been a growing number of families choosing this route," she said. "We haven't done it yet, just looked it up. It's either spending $300 for two here or spending the same amount [online] and getting double [four]."
Ms Revesz-Sidnam said her first question was about quality and whether the auto injectors were real.
"I know another family who had one and had to use it and it was fine," she said. "Lewis and Reid both need access to lifesaving medication so for us it's a no-brainer.
"But for Pharmac, it shows they're not putting any value in our children's lives."
Mrs Revesz-Sidnam has signed a petition created by Wellington mother Helen Richardson, asking the Government to fund auto injectors. It has almost reached 5000 signatures.
"The EpiPen is a lifesaving device, so in our minds there are no ifs, ands or buts," she said. "But a low income family might think ‘do I put food on table or buy it?'."
Auto-injectors are fully funded in Australia and Britain.
Allergy New Zealand adviser Penny Jorgensen said Pharmac's funding policy "completely fails to take into account the burden individuals and families living with the risk of anaphylaxis are carrying at their own expense".
Pharmac's director of operations, Sarah Fitt, said auto-injectors had "relatively poor" cost-effectiveness compared with other medicines being considered for funding.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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