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Disney to push its EpiPen treatment locations in parks, on cruise ships

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch was vacationing with her four children at Walt Disney World in Florida several years ago when an item in the park’s guide map caught her attention — the location of external defibrillator stations.

The simple-to-use devices can be lifesavers for people having heart attacks, and Bresch wondered why the map also didn’t highlight places where people could get emergency help for anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction to such things as foods, insect bites and medications.

Bresch’s curiosity led to a deal announced Friday that will highlight the availability of EpiPen, Mylan’s treatment for severe allergic reactions, throughout Disney’s theme parks in the United States and on its cruise ships.

“Today’s announcement with Disney marks another important step in Mylan’s journey to differentiate itself, and increase awareness and preparedness for anaphylaxis, and enhance access to EpiPen auto-injectors, building our efforts to enhance access to epinephrine in schools and other public settings,” Bresch said in a written statement.

Financial terms of the deal between the Cecil-based drugmaker and the world’s biggest theme park operator were not disclosed. But the partnership could make millions of Disney visitors aware of EpiPen, which is on track to reach blockbuster status with $1 billion in sales this year.

“For our guests who live with severe allergies every day, identifying EpiPen locations is an additional tool they’ll have for their anaphylaxis management plan,” Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer Disney parks, said in the statement.

EpiPen, a device that people can use to self-administer epinephrine in an emergency, is Mylan’s biggest-selling product. Epinephrine is a hormone more commonly known as adrenaline that opens airways and has other effects on the body that counteract allergic reactions.

Up to 1,500 people die each year in the United States from anaphylaxis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Mylan is the world’s third-largest generic drugmaker by revenue. But its single biggest product is the branded EpiPen. The company expects to generate at least $7.8 billion in total revenue this year, including sales of EpiPen.

Before the end of this year, location maps and other signs at Magic Kingdom in Florida, Disneyland in California and other Disney theme and water parks in the United States, along with its cruise ships, will highlight places where visitors can go for EpiPen treatments.

Disney officials declined to provide attendance figures for their U.S. parks. Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are the No. 1 and 2 most-visited amusement parks in the world, with combined annual attendance of more than 33 million in 2012, according to estimates from the Themed Entertainment Association, a trade group in Burbank, Calif. Five other Disney parks in Florida, including Epcot Center and Animal Kingdom, have more than 35 million combined yearly visits.

Mylan also has provided free EpiPen injectors to about 42,000 schools since 2012 through its EpiPen4Schools program, which seeks to educate teachers and school staff about the dangers of anaphylaxis.

Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin declined to comment on whether the company was in discussions with other amusement park operators about similar deals to highlight the availability of EpiPen.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or [email protected].


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