September 29, 2020

BY KATRINA EDLEFSENEdlefsenKatrinapromo

The price of a product that is used to keep people from going into anaphylactic shock is putting many people in Hamilton into a whole different kind of shock.

Last year the City of Hamilton voted to put auto-injectors – more commonly known as EpiPens – in restaurants throughout the city.

In Canada alone there are about 2.5 million people living with a food allergy and that number only accounts for the people who know that they have an allergy.

In a poll on CBC’s website, 78 per cent of voters said that cities should pay for EpiPens to be placed in restaurants.

The 22 per cent who voted no are likely suffering from price shock. According to an article published by the Hamilton Spectator, the cost of putting EpiPens in all major restaurants in the city was estimated to be $126,000 a year.

The Spectator also was quick to point out that because the placement of EpiPens is deemed a “public life-saving service,” it would be taxpayers who would have to shell out the big bucks for this program.

Another issue is liability. Many Hamilton residents were concerned that they could be sued by the other party in the case of a highly unlikely EpiPen-related death.

However, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, an associate professor in the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa, said in the Spectator story that the Ontario’s Good Samaritan Act would protect citizens from liability issues.

“The only way the average person could fall outside that is if you shoved the EpiPen in their eye and they went blind,” McLeod-Kilmurray said. “But that would be ridiculous.”

Cost and legal issues aside, another concern raised by residents and city council was the fact that if a case of anaphylaxis occurred and the EpiPen was wrongly administered by restaurant staff a new kind of lawsuit could open up, mainly whether the staff was properly trained.

Ultimately, in the case of EpiPens, the big question for residents of Hamilton becomes, how much are you willing to pay to save a life?

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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