I felt the need to write after reading the comment the Pharmac medical director, Dr Peter Moodie, made in the article ‘Food or Foe?’, published in the March issue of the North & South magazine. He says “We appreciate teaching people to use a syringe can be difficult, but it is something all diabetic children have to contend with”. He seems to have missed the point completely; drawing up adrenaline in a syringe in an emergency situation where timing is crucial is incomparable to diabetic children injecting themselves regularly with insulin because they have high blood sugar levels. The focus of a diabetic’s care is very different to that of an allergy sufferer’s care; in comparing the two Dr Moodie has trivialised the emergent needs of people with allergies, as well as those who care for them, by over simplifying the actions required for life-saving measures.
As a member of the medical profession I understand and empathise with both the short- and long-term difficulties diabetic children and their families face. As a mother of a child with multiple allergies I live with the challenges he faces daily, and support those who support him when he is not in my care (he is 8 so he goes to school). I have to agree with Dr Vincent St Aubyn Crump who says it is “ridiculous” to assume people will be able to manually draw adrenaline from an ampoule using a syringe and needle – even after many years of drawing up drugs in emergency situations my hands (and those of my colleagues), still shake when doing this task– often medicine needs to be redrawn because of this. For this reason I continue to buy an adrenaline auto-injector as opposed to the cheaper option of needle and syringe – the risk of relying on ‘cost-effective’ measures when my son’s life could be reliant on immediate medicinal administration is not worth taking.
With Dr Moodie at the helm it seems unlikely that Pharmac will be funding the auto-injectors in the near future. It would be wise if more research and understanding of both diabetes and anaphylaxis underpins further remarks Dr Moodie may make on this subject.
What do you think? Did you read the article? What did you think about Tania's comment? Let us know by commenting below.