It’s scary enough to think about having an allergic reaction in general, but even more so if you’re abroad and unfamiliar with how to prepare for such a situation. What happens if you have an allergic reaction and your EpiPen has expired or if you run out of injections? Today we are going to discuss how to get an EpiPen in Japan, and how it’s much easier than you might expect.
Bringing in EpiPen to Japan
An EpiPen, or epinephrine auto-injector, is an indispensable life-saving tool if you or a member of your family is prone to allergic reactions. It is possible to bring your own EpiPen into Japan without a Yakkan Shoumei (a kind of medical import certificate), however, it is restricted to a one-month supply or a single injection kit.
The cost of an EpiPen in Japan?
Since 2011, it has been possible to buy an EpiPen in Japan, but only by prescription from a doctor. The standard single adult dosage of 0.3 mg, which can vary with weight of patient, will cost you about 7,000-8,000 JPY, while the children’s dosage is 0.15 mg. Unfortunately if you do not have Japanese National Health Insurance the cost can rise to 30,000-40,000 JPY. This is also the price of the EpiPen on its own, there is an additional, consultation fee in order to get the prescription. It should only takes two business days from start to finish to get your EpiPen in Japan.
Consulting a doctor for your EpiPen
Getting an EpiPen (or エピペン) in Japan is not too difficult and may even be free depending on your health insurance coverage, however, they are not available at all clinics and hospitals. It is necessary to check in your area for a doctor who is certified to diagnose epinephrine.
If you have a Japanese-speaking friend or know how to write your town of residence in Japanese, please use the following link to search for an applicable clinic or hospital near you. The site is provided by Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company behind EpiPens, and should come with the most up to date information: http://allergy72.jp/search/
In addition, an EpiPen will expire after one year if left unused. In which case, you can return it to the doctor who prescribed it to you and receive a new dosage. This is also the case with used EpiPens.
When to use an EpiPen – Anaphylaxis
If you or someone you know has an allergy, being able to identify the warning signs is crucial.
Common reactions include hives or welts on the skin, face, arms, or chest. Difficulty breathing or swallowing due to swelling of the throat, lips, or tongue is another indicator that an allergic reaction is taking place.
There are instructions on how to administer the EpiPen right on the side of its packaging, but it is important to keep a few things in mind should you need to use it. An EpiPen works off of an auto-injector mechanism and should be administered to the side of one’s thigh.
The ends of EpiPens are colored blue and orange. A simple way to remember which side to administer the EpiPen is, “blue to the sky, orange to the thigh”. Remove the blue cap and firmly push and hold the EpiPen to your thigh for three seconds to ensure that the auto ejector functions properly. There will be an audible click to signal that the injection has started.
Please keep in mind, an EpiPen only temporarily prevents anaphylaxis, and its effects will wear off in about 20 minutes. Please seek emergency medical treatment immediately after using it.
Avoiding an allergic reaction
Even if you know how to get an EpiPen in Japan, you should do your best to avoid needing to use it. As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure, so if you have an allergy, it’s a good idea to research how to say it in Japanese. The following words are a few common food allergens you will run into in Japan.
– Shrimp エビ “ebi”
– Peanuts ピーナッツ “peenatsu”
– Shellfish 貝(かい) “kai”
Place any of these words in front the of the following phrase to state your allergy.
~アレルギーがあります “…arerugi ga arimasu.”
Before you go, just remember:
- You are allowed to bring your own EpiPen into Japan, but only one dosage.
- EpiPens can only be purchased by prescription through a doctor and cost about 7,000-8,000 JPY with Japanese Health Insurance.
- It is possible to search online for hospitals or clinics near you that can prescribe an EpiPen.