June 8, 2016
Mr. Gregg Saretsky
President and Chief Executive Officer, WestJet
22 Aerial Place NE
Calgary, Alberta T2E 3J1
Dear Mr. Saretsky,
Re: WestJet’s Recent Allergy Policy Change – Removal of onboard EpiPens®
On behalf of Food Allergy Canada (formerly Anaphylaxis Canada), the country’s leading advocacy and education organization for people with food allergies, our organization was among the first to applaud your company’s decision to add stock epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens®) to your in-flight medical kits in 2010. This decision came after considerable consultation with members of the allergy community, including our organization, making WestJet the first airline worldwide to do so at the time, and clearly demonstrating your ongoing commitment to help support your passengers with serious allergies.
We are greatly disappointed to learn of WestJet’s recent decision to remove stock epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens®) from your fleet.
With food allergy being recognized as a growing public health concern, affecting more than 2.5 million Canadians, this policy change seems counter to all the positive changes that we’ve seen taking place in our communities, specifically in terms of making stock epinephrine accessible.
Over the past few years we have witnessed an increase in stock epinephrine being made available in public places, including The Bell Centre (Montreal, QC); St. Hubert Restaurant chain; La Ronde Amusement Park; Jackson Square Mall (Hamilton, ON); Walt Disney Parks and Resorts & Disney Cruise Lines and many more restaurants throughout North America.
While our organization continues to educate individuals at risk to self-protect, including carrying their own epinephrine auto-injectors, air travel represents unique circumstances whereby stock epinephrine makes sense, the same way other on-board life-saving medications and apparatuses do, such as an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Airline travel poses an exceptional set of circumstances for passengers with food allergies – being in an enclosed space for long periods of time, thousands of feet in the air and away from emergency medical attention. We are particularly concerned about Canadians who may have a serious reaction for the first time on board or those that may need a second dose of epinephrine if they have experienced an allergic reaction in flight. If such an event were to occur, and epinephrine was not immediately and easily accessible, the result could be tragic.
In our recent submission to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), Food Allergy Canada reiterated our position that stock epinephrine on airplanes was an important safety feature that could save lives. Removing your existing stock now, at a time when the CTA and other industry stakeholders are reviewing this practice as a potential additional safety option for airlines, would send the wrong signal to Canadians with food allergies.
We urge you to reconsider this decision.
Food Allergy Canada would be pleased to work with WestJet on a strategy to reinstitute its stock epinephrine program, and we remain available for consultation on allergy policies. You are welcome to contact us via the coordinates below.
Thank you in advance for considering this request.
Food Allergy Canada
Tags: advocacy, stock epi, stock epinephrine, Westjet