Food and insect sting allergies are on the rise, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). Reactions sometimes lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic response. Doctors recommend that food- and venom-allergic patients always carry or have immediate access to two epinephrine auto-injectors, the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis.

Since food and insect sting allergies are more prevalent, should epinephrine be over-the-counter (OTC) and available to everyone?

“Medical experts agree epinephrine auto-injectors are not appropriate for over-the-counter use,” The Network’s President and CEO Tonya Winders recently told Children’s Advocate magazine.

Here’s why:

1) Anaphylaxis is a complex condition, Winders says. It requires physician-directed diagnosis and treatment.

2) If epinephrine is available OTC, some patients or parents may elect to go to the pharmacy instead of going to the emergency room – wasting precious moments that could prove fatal.

3) OTC epinephrine would not be covered under health insurance plans – shifting the burden of cost from the insurance company to the patient. “Most families without significant means would be forced to spend hundreds of dollars per year for a medication they hope to never need,” Winders says. “The Network believes this would create undue burden on many patients and some would choose not to carry epinephrine auto-injectors at all times.”

Read more about the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and what to do in case of an emergency – click here