CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As families wait desperately for refills of a lifesaving drug, one Northeast Ohio student is making sure his classmates have access to EpiPen supplies in the case of emergencies.
“It’s frightening," Katie Nainiger said.
Her son, Adien, has a life-threatening peanut allergy.
For most families of children with life-threatening allergies, sending their kids back to school is a daunting task. The task is made even more daunting this year with a nationwide shortage of EpiPen supplies.
On average, two kids in each classroom have a food allergy. Forty percent of kids with food allergies have deadly reactions like anaphylaxis.
“At school, especially at lunch, a lot of people are eating different kinds of foods,” Aiden said.
At Madison Middle School in Lake County, 10 to 15% of students have serious allergies.
“Everyday I walk in and it’s something on my mind," said Madison Middle School Principal Thomas Brady.
That’s why students like Aiden need to carry epinephrine at all times.
“I carry two around my waist every time I leave the house and then in the nurse’s station, there’s two more," Aiden explained.
A nationwide shortage of the drug is preventing many students like Aiden from doing just that.
Mylan, EpiPen’s parent company, is listed by the FDA as having a nationwide shortage. The reason is “manufacturing delays.”
19 News called a handful of pharmacies in Northeast Ohio. Those that didn’t immediately have EpiPen supplies available were unable to say when they would get it in stock.
Aiden decided to take the problem into his own hands. He applied for a program that stocks EpiPen supplies in schools and raised enough money to also get a locked case for storage and easy access in the case of an emergency.
“There are a total of four EpiPens which would provide about an hour of safety before the paramedics could arrive,"said Aiden.
The nurse and school office have the only keys to the box, but the box can be broken in the case of a real emergency.
Around 25% of children who go into anaphylactic shock didn’t previously know they had an allergy. That’s why the lock box is strategically placed in between the lunch room, gym, and playground doors.
Aiden was also able to get EpiPen stocked at every other school in the Madison district.
“He came to me with a plan. He laid it out and said, ‘Here’s what I’m going to go. Here’s how I’m going to help you out. Here’s how I’m going to help the school out,’ and I was like, ‘I’m on board. Let’s do it,'" Brady said.
19 News reached out to a handful of districts to see if they have extra supplies of EpiPens like Madison’s lock boxes.
Most don’t have any extra supplies other than what’s provided by parents. Even Cleveland Metro Schools applied for the EpiPen assistance program, but say they haven’t heard back.
For parents, students, and staff at Madison Schools, they know Aiden’s work couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It puts a little bit of ease of mind to everybody, staff the nurse," Brady said.
Schools can apply for EpiPen assistance through this link.