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News + Insights from Around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line


EpiPen: A lifeline, not a luxury

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“Epinephrine is very, very cheap. Even in the developing world, it costs less than a dollar per milliliter, and there’s less than a third of that in an EpiPen.”

—It’s not epinephrine that has made the life-saving EpiPen such a cash cow. 
It’s the injection device itself. (New York Times) 

Bottom Line: A shot of epinephrine is a simple treatment for the 1 - 2% of people who develop anaphylaxis, a condition whereby your airways swell and close in response to allergens. In most parts of the world, epinephrine is injected via syringe by someone trained to give shots. But injecting yourself with a syringe is difficult when you're having an attack, which is why most Americans rely on the EpiPen. Pharmaceutical company Mylan has monopolized the market with this simple device that allows for easy self-administration of a life-saving drug. But at $600 for a pack of two, on a medication that needs to be replaced annually, consumers are fighting back. As this insightful article points out, we could go back to the days of using a syringe—but that would require training, trial and error. And most people, especially parents, are not willing to take that chance.


8 Strange Signs
You're Having an Allergic Reaction

#7 Swollen Tongue: “Known as oral allergy syndrome, the condition occurs when the immune system behaves as though the protein found in some fruits and vegetables and the pollen in the air are the same.”

More than 5 million Americans have allergies, but not all symptoms are alike. (Live Science)

Bottom Line: Fall can be the worst time of year for people with sniffling, sneezy, itchy allergies. But not all allergic responses and symptoms are obvious. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has a "virtual allergist" program that can help you root out the cause of what ails you. Plus information on treatments for a variety of conditions.


Women Have More Allergies
to Common medications 

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“The most commonly reported allergies were to penicillins, sulfonamide antibiotics and opiates. Among women, 15% were allergic to penicillins compared with 10% of men.”

—Researchers aren't sure why women have a greater incidence of allergic reactions. (Wall Street Journal)

Bottom Line: As reported in the journal Allergy, researchers studied patients treated at two Boston hospitals over two decades. Women also had significantly more allergies to NSAIDs, including aspirin and ibuprofen. And they found that white patients had significantly more drug allergies than other racial groups, and some drug allergies were more common among blacks, including allergies to ACE inhibitors and NSAIDs.


His Passion Was killing HIm

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"Doctors were stumped...He didn’t smoke. His home wasn’t hiding any mold. He didn’t have connective tissue disease, which can cause breathing problems."

Trumpeters, saxophonists and pipers beware—playing a wind instrument
could damage your lungs. (The Washington Post)

Bottom Line: A rare but fatal case of "bagpipe lung" was discovered in a patient who had a daily hobby of playing bagpipes. Doctors believe he fell victim to the mold and fungi lurking inside the moist interior of his bagpipes. And it wasn't the first time that bagpipes have been identified as a source of ill health. Cleaning and oiling your instrument is not only necessary for its preservation, but most importantly for your health. 

Bonus video: Learn how to keep your pipes clean.