Susan Elliott and Food Allergy Canada succeed in diversifying supply of life-saving treatment

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Susan ElliottThe arrival of a second supplier for epinephrine auto-injectors is a big win for Canadians affected by food allergy or at risk of anaphylaxis.

Following two years of advocacy by GEM researcher Susan Elliott and Food Allergy Canada, the country is no longer a single-source market for epinephrine auto-injectors. By only having one source of supply of the medication, Canadians were vulnerable to the global supply shortages that had become a periodic, burdensome occurrence since 2018. For the more than 2 million Canadians living with this potentially life-threatening medical condition, having epinephrine auto-injectors consistently accessible is critical. 

“Managing food allergy poses a daily challenge for those at-risk and impacts their overall quality of life,” says Elliott, Professor, Geography and Environmental Management, at the University of Waterloo. “Measures that can help improve their ability to live safely and confidently, including greater access to life saving medication, will go a long way in alleviating some of the stress associated with this serious medical condition.”

Throughout the last two years, Food Allergy Canada has worked with Health Canada and the Minister of Health’s office to address supply shortages when they occurred, including through an interim order of supply in 2018, while continuing to seek out a longer-term alternative. The organization thanks Health Minister Patty Hajdu and departmental staff for their commitment to the community. Through our collaborative efforts, Canadians with food allergy have one less worry today.

“The supply shortages over the last two years created anxiety and underscored the urgency of having more than one option for epinephrine auto-injectors in this market,” said Jennifer Gerdts, Executive Director of Food Allergy Canada.

Food allergy is a growing public health concern in Canada. As even a small amount of an allergen, if ingested, can cause a serious reaction. Reliable and consistent access to emergency medication in the form of an auto-injector is part of the daily regimen for those affected. 

Elliott is a medical geographer with particular interests in global environmental health. She is an Adjunct Professor with the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), a partner in much of the global water and sanitation research that she undertakes. She is also a research lead for the AllerGen national centres of excellence on gene-environment interactions and allergic disease. Visit her lab website: Geographies of Health in Place.

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