With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

30 June 2015

Are Epinephrine Injectors Affordable?

As a mother of a child with life threatening food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, I am always searching for new safe foods made in dedicated facilities. That's the gold standard to me, so when I find a new safe food, I feel victorious! Unfortunately, they are always more expensive than the "regular" versions, but I am still so glad to find the products at all.

What about those life-saving epinephrine injectors? They are not free either. Currently, both Mylan and Sanofi offer coupons to make the cost of purchasing epinephrine injectors more manageable. For some, the coupon brings their out-of-pocket cost for Epipens or Auvi-Q down to $0! Their health insurance pays the rest, and that is an ideal situation for the consumer. For others, the coupon lowers the out-of-pocket to a few hundred, and if there is a deductible for prescriptions, when and if the consumer hits their deductible, then the insurance will cover the cost of the epis and the consumer pays his or her co-pays. There are a number of variations on this theme of high deductible health insurance. None of them are terribly affordable, since most people need more than one set of epinephrine injectors. Children, in particular, tend to need several sets--at least 1 for school, 1 for home, 1 for additional caregivers, etc. It can become extremely costly.

Gas prices in my area are about $2.73/gallon, a dozen of eggs are nearly $5.00. It seems the prices of everything are just going up, and I don't see incomes or salaries increasing at the same pace. The time has come for the food allergy community--as a unique group of consumers--to get organized and voice our shared concern about the cost of epinephrine injectors. Put simply, the prices are out of control.

What are your thoughts? What has been your experience with purchasing epinephrine injectors? Does your insurance cover the purchase? Are you able to use the coupons from Mylan or Sanofi? Are you one of the many stuck with high deductibles? Please share in a comment below. Thank you!

23 June 2015

Food Allergy Parents Celebrate the End of Another School Year

Another school year has come to an end. Parents of food allergic children visit Facebook support groups and networks to share their gratitude for a school year ending with the retrieval of two unused Epipens from the school nurse. If you don't have a child with life threatening food allergies, it's probably something you don't even think of. And why would you? The last day of school is always an exciting, joy-filled one. It's the end of one stage and the beginning of another. Gowing up, with all its milestones--from preschool to kindergarten, from elementary to middle school, and middle to high school, the end of every school year is a milestone. When you have a child with life threatening food allergies, however, and you pick up those two epinephrine injectors from the school nurse, it's a different sort of milestone. It's so fundamental, most people take it for granted--another allergy safe, allergic reaction free school year! We are grateful for the support from the teachers and school staff who helped care for our children and kept them safe, and we hope next school year is even better!

19 June 2015

Is that a Hive?

You know those hives that appear so subtly around the edges of your mouth, you almost doubt you're seeing them? You think to yourself "Are those hives?" And then you think, "No, that's just from eating a sandwich with toasted bread" or "that's the ketchup" or "that's from the sauce." But you keep watching and the pinkness around the edges of lips begins to swell ever so slightly until you realize you are certain that's a hive or two. The unmistakable shinyness of puffy pink skin around the edges of one's mouth right after eating or even during eating--yep, it's hives. But it's not itchy, you say to yourself. Maybe it isn't an allergic reaction. But you know it really is. You told everyone you needed to about the food allergies, every server who attended to your table. You checked with the manager beforehand. And nothing more happens. Just a few hives. After a while, after you have left the restaurant, the hives fade away. Phew! Just hives.

Eating out with food allergies can be stressful. You never realized before you managed food allergies, that eating out with abandon, not worrying about having a life threatening reaction to a food was a luxury. You didn't appreciate that luxury while you had it and suddenly one day, it was gone. 

Do you return to the restaurant? Is it worth eating out? It's a very personal decision. It's all about your own personal comfort level. Whatever you decide, please take a moment to share your dining out experience--good or bad--on the AllergyEats website. It's such a tremendous resource and just keeps getting better! The more reviews, the more helpful the site will be for individuals managing food allergies, and the more options we'll have, so please be sure to share your reviews!

09 June 2015

Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative of Peabody Would Like Your Input!

Noticed a Facebook post earlier today which I thought might interest Food Allergy Buzz readers. The author has given me permission to share it with you.

I am copying and pasting the message from Kirstie D. below:

"Hi all! I need your help. I'm the President/Founder of the Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative of Peabody, Inc. We are trying to gather some information regarding Epi-Pens and put together this survey. We need as many participants as we can get to collect usable data. Our goal is to determine if the cost of Epi-Pens is a factor in families filling their prescriptions. Ultimately, our concerns are around how many families go without an epi-pen because they can't afford it. This keeps me up at night. Thank you so much!


Please help by completing AAAI's short survey! Thank you!

02 June 2015

More Competition for the Epipen

Very interesting article on MedCityNews.com about a new alternative to the Epipen which is under development by Windgap Medical. This is great news! More options, and possibly better options! Take a look:

Watch Out, Epipen: A better auto-injector for severe allergies is in the works

31 May 2015

Food Allergies at End of the School Year Celebrations

It's that time of year again. Seniors are graduating today at many high schools around the region, and there will be parties and celebrations afterwards. It's a minefield for those individuals managing food allergies, but hopefully at age 18 or thereabouts--in addition to being ready for all the usual adult responsibilities that come with high school graduation--they are ready for managing their food allergies solo. They have been practicing food allergy management for years. Hopefully, they are well equipped now to make sound decisions about  food allergy management and all the other challenges that will come. As a bright young local author wrote:

"You are standing on the ravine of adulthood, one loose pebble from tumbling down into grownup; there is the thunder in your lungs and hurricanes in your brain. Do not let anyone issue a storm warning. You are ready for this. Every moment in your life has led to the next. Breathe and trust. Live and let go...the world is at your fingertips. It's your turn to set it on fire."

For the younger set, there are still end-of-the-school-year celebrations--picnics, barbecues, field days-- and ceremonies celebrating the transition from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, and even pre-school to elementary school. Like it or not, these celebrations often involve food. So be prepared, check with the planners for these events and celebrations and find out if food is involved, and what you can do to not only protect your child but ensure that they feel just as much a part of the celebration as their peers.

25 May 2015

Food Labeling News

Have you heard of the Just Label It campaign? It is a campaign pushing for national legislation for labeling of genetically modified foods. Not only would I like to know whether or food has been genetically modified, I would like to know what is in my food in general. How do individuals with allergies outside of the Big 8 realistically manage their allergies when food manufacturers are not required to reveal all the ingredients? What does "spices" mean? What are "fruit flavors"?

Homa Woodrum, along with Brian Heller, and the good people at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have worked hard to try to get a new rule that would:

"1) require sesame-based ingredients to be listed by name (“sesame”) in the ingredient lists of all foods and;
 2) add sesame to FDA’s list of allergens in Sec. 555.250 of its Compliance Policy Guides Manual, “Statement of Policy for Labeling and Preventing Cross-contact of Common Food Allergens” to address both labeling and cross contact issues related to food manufacturing practices."


This would be a huge improvement, a massive step in the right direction, in providing what seems to be very fundamental information--more precise information about ingredients that are in the food being sold at the grocery store. Shouldn't we know what we are buying, and what we are eating? It is actually a matter of life and death for some of us, so why the resistance?

So let's continue this journey by creating a new rule for sesame, and see where it takes us. Sesame is quite high up on the list of common food allergens, and a number of other countries already require it to be labeled specifically on food packaging. We in the U.S. are really behind on this. What can you do to support the food labeling effort? Homa's blog post, Lobbying for Sesame Labeling in Washington D.C., suggests contributing to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, if possible. For updates on the sesame labeling issue, also be sure to visit The Allergy Law Project or Homa's blog, Oh Ma Deehness.
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