May 29, 2017
By ADAM SWIFT
PEABODY — It may come down to cost versus benefit as one city councilor looks at a plan to provide first responders with EpiPens.
EpiPen, the brand name for an epinephrine autoinjector, is a medical device for injecting a measured dose or doses of epinephrine, often used for the treatment of anaphylaxis brought on by allergic reactions. Last week, the council’s health and human services committee met with the city’s police and fire chiefs, health director Sharon Cameron, and Kristie DeLoreto, president and founder of the Peabody-based Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative.
“I just wanted to have a conversation to see what the starting point is and what it is involved (in supplying first responders with EpiPens),” said Councilor-at-Large Thomas Walsh. “Kristie is the one I had the conversation with and who really asked that we start the conversation.”
DeLoreto said her group has made a lot of progress over the last several years, especially with making sure schools have EpiPens on hand in case a student having an allergic reaction is not carrying one. Exploring the possibility of first responders carrying EpiPens is the next step for the city, she said.
“I really feel so strongly that epinephrine is the only line of defense for reactions with anaphylaxis,” said DeLoreto.
Fire Chief Steve Pasdon said he believes EpiPens provide a great benefit.
“The concern I have is with the cost,” Pasdon said. He said it would cost $7,000 per year for 10 double packs of adult and junior doses for the department.
“I’m totally for it, but I have to balance the budget,” said Pasdon. He noted that the EpiPens only have a shelf life of one year, so would have to be replaced on an annual basis.
“I would like to go out and find a sustainable funding source,” he said.
While the police and fire departments do not currently carry EpiPens, Atlantic Ambulance does equip their vehicles with EpiPens. The pens were used twice in 2017, four times in 2016, and six times in 2015.
Walsh said he would like to continue the discussion on EpiPens for first responders by establishing a working group including DeLoreto, Cameron, and representatives from the police and fire departments and Atlantic Ambulance.
“I know it sounds like a lot of money, but in the instance that an attack occurs, it could be the difference between life and death,” said Walsh.