Epinephrine (adrenaline), a self-injectable medication, is the first-line treatment for severe or life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Epinephrine is a highly effective medication that can reverse severe symptoms. However, it must be administered promptly during anaphylaxis to be most effective. Delayed use of epinephrine during an anaphylactic reaction has been associated with deaths.
If you have been prescribed epinephrine, FARE recommends that you carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times to make sure you have quick access to this life-saving medication. Also be aware of your auto-injector’s expiration date!
There are a number of epinephrine auto-injectors that have been approved by the FDA and are available, with a prescription, to people who are managing food allergies. The devices operate in different ways, so it is important to discuss your options with your doctor and be properly trained to use the device. Below is a list of the devices currently on the market, links to important information about each product, and training videos on how to use them.
ADRENACLICK®/GENERIC EPINEPHRINE AUTO-INJECTOR
Detailed information about Auvi-Q™ is available at www.auvi-q.com.
Detailed information about EpiPen® is available at www.epipen.com.
Whether you have been managing food allergies for many years or just received a diagnosis, you may have a preference about which epinephrine auto-injector you would prefer to use. It is important to make this decision in partnership with your doctor. Below are some tips for getting the auto-injector you want.
- Talk with your doctor about which product is best for you
- Make sure you are trained on your chosen device before leaving your doctor’s office
- Ask your doctor to write your prescription specifically for the product you chose, either one of the brand names or the generic
- Talk to your pharmacist about the epinephrine auto-injector you want when dropping off your prescription
- Before leaving the pharmacy, double-check the product you were given to make sure it is the one that you wanted and that was prescribed by your doctor.
USING AN AUTO-INJECTOR
Ask your doctor for training on how to use the auto-injector that has been prescribed for you. In addition, the manufacturers’ websites provide detailed information, including instructions for using the device. It’s important to become familiar with these instructions. Practice using the auto-injector until the process becomes second nature. Teach others how to use it as well.
An injection of epinephrine should be given in the outer thigh. Injecting the medication intravenously or into the buttocks is not recommended. Auto-injectors can usually be used through clothing. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for details.
Once the device is injected, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding how long to hold the device in place to ensure all of the medication has been delivered.
Once epinephrine is administered, you should call 911 immediately and advise dispatchers that you have just used epinephrine for a suspected food-induced anaphylactic reaction. Make arrangements to be transported to an emergency room for additional treatment and for observation.
CARRYING AND STORING EPINEPHRINE
Epinephrine is sensitive to light and should be stored at room temperature. Do not refrigerate epinephrine, and take precautions to prevent the device from freezing. Epinephrine should never be stored in a vehicle, where temperatures can climb to triple digits, causing the medication to become less effective.
Periodically check the epinephrine solution for discoloration. If the solution becomes slightly pinkish in color, or darker than slightly yellow, the medication may be less effective; call your doctor for a replacement device.