Jan 21, 2015

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Before Christmas Eric and I were driving back from a hockey tournament in Yorkton. On the radio, an interesting discussion came up about how clean nuclear power was. This caught my attention because I grew up next to nuclear research station. The discussion eventually turned to what to do with nuclear waste. The host brought on an expert from Southern Ontario, Dave Shoesmith. At first I thought, Such a common name. Nah, it couldn't be. But as soon as I heard the voice, I knew was him. The guest expert used to live in Pinawa when I did. In fact, he used to be my hockey coach. Thirty-ish years later, I still instantly recognized that voice. Then I started remembering all his quirks and sayings. It was a fun, but surreal moment driving my son back from a hockey tournament and reminiscing about old hockey coach while he talked on the radio.

Usually my Thursdays in Winnipegosis are not so surreal as I try to think of something to write about for this article. However, this week was easy. A colleague emailed me a link to the Veta EpiPen Smart Case because she knew I had an interest in severe allergies and children. Im glad she did. The Veta Case will be very cool when it comes to market in Fall 2015. But, before I tell you about the Veta Smart Case, I should probably back up a bit.

What is an EpiPen? EpiPens are autoinjecting syringes designed to deliver epinepherine (adrenaline) for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions. Here is how to use one:

  • Hold the EpiPen with your fist in the middle of the pen. Think Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh. The needle comes out the orange end. Hold than end against your thigh. The blue cap should be pointed up if you are sitting. Remove the blue safety cap with your other hand.
  • Hold the orange tip near the outer thigh. Swing and jab firmly into the outer thigh so that the auto-injector is perpendicular (at a 90 angle) to the thigh. Hold the needle in the thigh and count to 10 seconds slowly. This is so the whole dose goes into the muscle (Note: some of the liquid epinephrine never leaves the auto injector and it cannot be re-used). Remove the EpiPen and put it back in the case so you can take it with you to the hospital.
  • After administering, the needle is automatically covered by the orange tip. Note the time of injection. Go immediately to the nearest hospital, or call 911. Bring the EpiPen with you.
  • If in doubt, if you are having an allergic reaction or not, use the EpiPen. Using an EpiPen when you don't need one is very safe. Not using an EpiPen when you do need one can be fatal.
  • EpiPen can be used through light clothing. It will not work though a snowsuit, but most pants are okay.
  • The effects of the EpiPen may wear off after 10-15 minutes. If you live a long way from the hospital you need one EpiPen for every 15 minutes you are away from the hospital.

The Veta EpiPen Smart case seems to be aimed at the parents of children with severe allergies who need to carry an EpiPen. The Veta Smart Case is a hard clear plastic case that fits around the EpiPen much like the case the EpiPen comes in. But the Veta cap has a bunch of electronics in it. These electronics work with an app on your smart phone. The electronics will do some important but not so exciting things like help you to remember when your child's EpiPen expires and to warn you if your child's EpiPen gets too hot or cold. It has some more interesting features as well. These include Find-me which causes the case to beep and flash. The app will also remember the last location your phone was in contact with the case. That means you know whether to start looking for the EpiPen in the living room, or across town at Grandma's house. There is a proximity alert. This tells you if your smart phone and your EpiPen get separated. This may be a useful feature if you have a teenager with allergies. Your allergic teen is probably surgically attached to their phone at all times. If they accidentally leave the house without their EpiPen, the Veta case and their phone will be too far apart. The Veta app will send them an alert to go back and get their EpiPen. I think that is useful. The company has more interesting suggestions if you have a young child.

The makers of the Veta Smart Case suggest that your allergic 8 year old might be too young for a smart phone. But if you give them an iPod Touch to take with them everywhere, you the parent will get an alert if your child gets separated from their EpiPen. That means you could tell if your child left her EpiPen at home. I love technology, but I'm not sure about 8 year olds with iPod Touches. I know if you go to any hockey rink, you will see lots of 8 year olds and younger with iPod Touches anyway, but it would have to be kid dependent. My 9 year old Eric forgets his agenda or some piece of clothing at school at least twice a week. Do I really want to trust him with a piece of electronics worth hundreds of dollars?

The Veta Smart Case also has emergency notifications. When the cap is opened, a message will be sent to a predetermined group of people. For our allergic teenager that might be a teacher, the principle, and a parent. That way people could immediately come to the child's aid. The case will check back with the child in a couple of minutes. If the child is unable to respond, it will provide a loud verbal warning to bystanders that there is a medical emergency. This verbal warning can even be pre-set to a different language if you are travelling.

Teaching your child how to live with severe allergies is a lot like coaching. What your hockey coach says and does can stick with you for years. Unfortunately, maybe longer than what your teachers tell you in school. So to all the hockey coaches out there, thanks for all you do. Just don't be surprised if your quotes and quirks are repeated and talked about for the next 30 years. This Veta Smart case will be cool technology when it comes out. You and your child can and should learn how to use an EpiPen without the aid of technology, but since tech is around us all the time anyway, maybe it can help us manage severe allergies better.

As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca

Veta Smart Case - www.aterica.com

EpiPen site - www.epipen.ca


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