UPDATE 20 August 2014: I have bad news, very very bad news. You will see below that this commercial has been revised, and the revisions are terrible. It’s been changed to the exact messaging that costs people their lives year after year.
What I originally wrote is this: I love this new EpiPen commercial from Pfizer Canada for EpiPen Canada! I think it does an excellent job of explaining how simple it is to use an EpiPen. Although I love certain features of its competitor (the Auvi-Q/Allerject injector), I don’t find it easier to use, and I think it’s very well timed for EpiPen to focus on ease of use. To watch the new commercial, click on the Play button on the image below.
The script is elegant in its simplicity:
The One & Only EpiPen
Young girl: It looks like this. It has a blue cap and an orange tip, and I’ve had one since I was only little. If you have one, you should always have it with you, or somewhere nearby. You use it like this (Statement on screen: Demonstration only. EpiPen auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis): Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh. Simple right? But if someone is having a severe allergic reaction, it could save their life. One. Two. Two simple steps that everyone should know. The two steps of the one and only EpiPen. (Statement on screen: After administration, patients should seek medical attention immediately or go to the emergency room. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the Consumer Information leaflet in your product package.)
Now, the voiceover ends with the words:
“Only for severe allergic reactions”
This is wording that kills people, month after month, year after year. The reason is that at the scene of an allergic reaction, there is no way for anyone to determine if it’s mild or severe: That is something for clinicians to determine from vital statistics and blood results after the reaction. When 1 or at most 2 symptoms of any kind are present (or zero symptoms if you know you’re consumed your allergen), the action to take is to use your EpiPen within 1 to 5 minutes and go to the hospital immediately by ambulance. Those who have taken my course in anaphylaxis first aid or who follow the World Allergy Organization anaphylaxis guideline updates will know that after the injection, one should lie down with feet elevated above heart level, and stay in that position to keep blood in your core and allow the epinephrine to circulate until emergency room doctors advise that it’s safe to sit up. This will almost certainly ensure you survive your reaction. The next day, after matters have settled down, you and your allergist and the emergency physicians will analyze your test results and categorize your reaction as mild, moderate, or severe, but these terms will be irrelevant. The next time you respond to a reaction, you should treat it exactly as above, because (you should know this now) there’s no way to determine whether it’s severe while the situation is unfolding, and you need to treat the patient with epinephrine in the first 1 to 5 minutes for the best rate of survival. If you wait for it to be crystal clear that the reaction is indeed “severe” (whatever that means), precious time will be lost and lives are lost as a result. In honour of those who have passed from delayed epinephrine treatment, like Natalie Giorgi, Giovanni Cipriano, B.J. Hom, Maia Santarelli-Gallo, and Sabrina Shannon (to name just a few), let’s end this madness now.
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