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EpiPen shortage raises some concern for Guelph paramedic chief

Click to play video 'Health Canada warns about shortage of EpiPens' Health Canada warns about shortage of EpiPens
Health Canada is warning adults with severe allergies that Canadian pharmacies will run out of EpiPens next month. Nadia Stewart reports – Jul 31, 2018

The chief of the Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service says an EpiPen shortage is concerning, but he doesn’t expect too much of an impact or an increase in calls.

Stephen Dewar said a call for an anaphylaxis reaction is not one his paramedics get too often, but it is a life-threatening situation that requires an immediate response.

READ MORE: EpiPen shortage to continue into August, Health Canada warns

“That’s where an EpiPen can make a big difference and time can be very critical — the EpiPen, of course, buys us that time,” Dewar said.

“If people who are susceptible to an anaphylactic reaction don’t have their EpiPen then time is even more critical.”

Paramedics do not carry EpiPens. Instead epinephrine is carried in vials, which allows first responders to adjust the dose.

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Dewar said his paramedics have administered epinephrine 22 times in 2018.

He said the greater concern surrounds calls in the most rural parts of Wellington County that take paramedics longer to get to.

“Fortunately once we’re on scene we can administer the epinephrine and keep people stable for the time, but rural calls tend to be our longer response times,” he explained.

READ MORE: EpiPen shortage to continue into August, Health Canada warns

Health Canada said the adult dose of the EpiPen is expected to be in limited supply until the end of August and there is no alternative sold in Canada.

Officials said the EpiPen expires on the last day of the month, but advised people to use expired EpiPens if they have no other alternative.