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Letters: EpiPen conversation

March 20, 2017 In the Dec. 12, 2016 issue of the ADA News, I found the letter written by Dr. Fred Quarnstrom about an alternative to EpiPens very interesting.

The alternative to an EpiPen seems so simple: an ampule of epinephrine, a syringe, a filter needle and a 1.5-inch 25-gauge needle. But it was more difficult than anticipated finding the supplies we needed for this part of our emergency kit; the dental supply companies we contacted had no such pre-made kits available and many companies had some items but not others. 

The major pharmacy in town only carried EpiPens, not ampules of epinephrine. We were at a loss.

Our local neighborhood pharmacy was the biggest help of all. They could get the epinephrine in ampules and the filter needles in a more reasonable quantity. And one of the dental supply companies had a box of combined sterile syringes and needles. Total cost? About $150. 

At the end of the day, we now have 25 ampules of epinephrine 1:1000, 100 filter needles, and 100 syringes with needles. Sure, we have more than we need, but we are prepared. 

And with the excess quantities, we had enough to practice switching out the needles, breaking open the ampules, and drawing up the epinephrine. By the end of our training, there were no needle sticks or cuts from glass.

The most important thing to remember is training. 

Whether your office has an EpiPen or this alternative to one, if you don't know how to use it, it will not work. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail so have all of your equipment available, have the proper training and make sure someone is calling 911 from the very start. 

Thanks to Dr. Quarnstrom, our office has a more affordable alternative to the autoinjector. Maybe the dental supply companies will come out with an epinephrine emergency kit that will make acquiring these supplies a little bit easier. But, if not, now we'll know where to get them.

Katharine Stringer, D.M.D.
Naples, Florida