I was contacted yesterday by Huffington Post Canada editor Natalie Stechyson to comment about the circumstances surrounding the death of Justin Mathews, age 33 of Edmonton Alberta Canada, which comments were published here: Expert Sounds Alarm On Hidden Nut Allergens After Workplace Death. I extend my sincere condolences to Justin’s family. I share their hope that by discussing the circumstances of his untimely death, no one else will die in this extremely unfortunate way.
Justin was allergic to tree nuts. He walked into a work site to test its air quality following sand blasting or media blasting to remove lead paint. His family advises that after 20 minutes inside the building, he went outside feeling unable to catch his breath, and then he collapsed.
It turns out that the blasting material used was walnut shells instead of a regular silica based product, so the air would have had a high concentration of airborne nut allergen, and Justin had no knowledge of this. His family has stated to the press, and I agree, that signage and material safety data sheets should be required when a top allergen is present in a substance used on site.
I pointed out to Ms. Stechyson that nut shells can be present in other building materials as well, such as non-slip paint, wood stains, flooring, counter tops and particle board. An excellent resource for allergens in non-food products is the blog Chemurgy and Allergens. Non-food products containing other allergens such as corn, milk, soy and sesame are also considered.
It breaks my heart to think of Justin beginning to feel unwell without any knowledge that he was inhaling his allergen. I expect he was confident that he hadn’t consumed or come in contact with nuts that day, so I imagine he would have soldiered on with his job and not considered that he was having an allergic reaction, let alone considered using epinephrine. In other words, through lack of allergen information, Justin had no opportunity to save himself.
Tragically, even if Justin had thought of using epinephrine, he didn’t have his EpiPens with him, the fire station where he was working didn’t have any on hand, and the first responders that arrived didn’t have epinephrine either. EpiPens are a behind the counter medication in Canada, which can be purchased directly from the pharmacist without a prescription and easily included in a first aid kit. Due to the work of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative, some fire trucks do stock epinephrine. It is my hope that many more will now follow suit to prevent tragedies like this, that each person with food allergies or asthma will carry two EpiPens at all times, and that every person reading this article will take one hour to learn anaphylaxis first aid (you can take a course by clicking here).
Despite receiving CPR, deprived of oxygen, 80% of Justin’s brain was dead by the time he arrived at the hospital. He was taken off life support and died five days later.
It provides some comfort to know that an Occupational Health and Safety investigation into Justin’s death is occurring, which must be completed within two years of the incident. My hope is that as Sabrina Shannon’s death from anaphylaxis and Ryan Gibbon’s death from asthma led to greater safety for children in Ontario schools, Justin Mathew’s death will lead to greater safety for allergic individuals on the work site. Perhaps we can all find some comfort in that.
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I’m very pleased to advise that Healthline has awarded my blog The Best Allergy Blogs of 2017 award. It means a lot to me that I have won this Editors’ Choice medically reviewed award every year since 2013 and that my blog is considered one of the best in the world.
Thank you very much, Healthline! You’re encouragement means a lot to me. To see the complete list of winners, click here.
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As I predicted, Mylan has expanded the EpiPen recall to now include additional lots distributed in the U.S. and other markets in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The expanded voluntary recall is being initiated in the U.S. and will also extend to additional markets in Europe, Asia, North and South America. In contrast to the first recall announcement that related only to the 0.3 mg injector, this recall now impacts both the 0.3 mg and 0.15 mg strengths of EpiPen Auto-Injector.
Mylan states in the press release that none of the recalled lots include the authorized generic for EpiPen Auto-Injector, which is also manufactured by Meridian Medical Technologies. This seems extremely strange to me, unless the defect relates to the label, since the generic is exactly the same device, just without the label. I think Mylan is trying to boost sales of the generic before they get recalled too.
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To read the press release regarding the expanded recall included the affected lot numbers and expiry dates, click here.
To read my previous article about the recall, click here.
I had the great privilege to speak with a reporter yesterday, as he’s doing some research for an article. I offered to seek feedback from my wonderful blog readers about the following:
Have you obtained Mylan’s generic EpiPen or faced any issue with it?
Is it more complicated to get their generic, rather than a brand name EpiPen?
How and why did you make your decision to go with branded or generic?
Did you go with a different product instead?
I would love for you to comment below on my blog, if you have anything to say in response to any of those questions. If you prefer, you may email me at email@example.com.
In order to be quoted in the newspaper article, the reporter would need to speak with you directly. In other words, you won’t be quoted unless he speaks with you first.
I think this is very cool, and I look forward to reading your responses as they come in! It’s a great chance to give feedback that may have an impact.
* If you would please share this post on the allergy pages you follow and by email with your contacts with allergies, that would be appreciated. The link to share is: http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2017/03/reporter-seeks-input-from-onespot-allergy-blog-readers/
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