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Adrenaline Auto-Injectors

Adrenaline auto-injector devices (or ‘adrenaline pens’) are prescribed to people with allergies who are at risk of having a severe allergic reaction (known as ‘anaphylaxis’). Your GP or allergy doctor will take an allergy history to help determine whether to prescribe you with an adrenaline auto-injector device.


If you have been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector, ensure you carry it with you at all times. Do not rely on someone else picking it up for you, or there being one available. Paediatric clinics in hospital generally provide age-appropriate education tailored to children, including how to use auto-injectors – so speak to your GP or Hospital Doctor if your child has been prescribed an auto-injector. Most companies also make DVDs and “dummy” trainer devices, which can be ordered for free online.

Your GP or allergy doctor should discuss how to recognise the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, and how to use your adrenaline auto injector device. Having family, friends, teachers and colleagues that also know how and when to give you your adrenaline auto injector device is important, should you be unable to do this yourself.

Having an Allergy action plan is important: a paediatric (child) action plan is available for all types of adrenaline auto-injector devices, and can be downloaded and completed by your doctor from:

http://www.bsaci.org/about/download-paediatric-allergy-action-plans

 

There are three types of adrenaline auto-injectors available in the UK:

Auto-adrenaline injector brand  Website  Company
 Emerade www.emerade-bausch.co.uk  Bausch & Lomb
 Epipen www.epipen.co.uk  MEDA Pharmaceuticals
 Jext www.jext.co.uk  ALK-ABELLO UK

 

All deliver the medicine adrenaline (also referred to as epinephrine), by an injection into the muscle. Giving adrenaline this way (as opposed to into a blood vessel) is very safe. All the devices are prescription only medicines, and therefore need to be prescribed by a GP or Allergy specialist. The devices come in a range of doses, which depends on the age / weight of the person prescribed the device.

Key message: The way each device is used is different, so it is important that you are shown how to use your own particular auto-injector device.

Having a trainer (dummy) device is useful for practicing how to use your adrenaline auto-injector, and to teach others how to use it. Each brand has its own trainer device, which can be ordered for free online from the manufacturer.

Care of your adrenaline auto-injector device:

  • Should be stored in a cool dark place at room temperature, kept out of direct sunlight and out of the way of extreme temperatures, for example a fridge, or glovebox in a car on a hot day
  • Keep out of the reach of small children, but not locked away or hard to access if needed
  • All adrenaline auto-injectors come with an expiry date. Keep an eye on the expiry dates and set a reminder several weeks before it is due to expire, to ensure you have enough time to obtain a prescription for a new device. Most manufacturers offer a registration service online, which will send you a text or email alert to remind you.
  • Adrenaline auto-injectors cannot be re-used, and must therefore be replaced as soon as possible.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommend that people prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector should always carry two devices. Having two auto-adrenaline injectors is beneficial for multiple situations including:

  • If the first dose is not effective in managing symptoms, and a second dose is required
  • The adrenaline auto injector is wrongly administered (there have been cases where the person providing first aid has accidentally injected themselves, resulting in the person having an anaphylactic reaction not getting the adrenaline)
  • Where there is a delay in reaching hospital, and a second dose is required.

Always keep your pens with you and always call an ambulance if you have used your adrenaline pen.

Adrenaline is a short-acting drug and the effects will wear off quite quickly. Severe reactions will generally need further urgent treatment. All patients receiving emergency adrenaline should immediately be transported to hospital: dial 999 and inform the controller that the patient has had anaphylaxis. Tell the controller is there have been any problems with breathing or feeling dizzy.

Don’t move someone having anaphylaxis until the ambulance arrives – standing someone up during anaphylaxis can trigger a more severe reaction.

See factsheet Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergic Reactions. http://www.allergyuk.org/severe-allergy-and-anaphylaxis/anaphylaxis

 

Last updated: May 2016                               Next review date: May 2019
                                                                                        
Version 11
 

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