EpiPen Side Effects, Uses, and Dosage

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What is EpiPen, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • EpiPen is an auto-injectable epinephrine-containing device used for self-administration during life-threatening allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Epinephrine, the medicine contained in EpiPen, is an excitatory chemical naturally made by our bodies. Epinephrine stimulates alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors found throughout the body. When injected during an allergic reaction, epinephrine works in multiple ways to treat the many signs of anaphylaxis. It causes blood vessels to constrict or tighten which helps to increase blood pressure and decrease swelling. Epinephrine also stimulates the heart muscle, causing the heart to beat faster and pump more blood to the vital organs. Epinephrine helps patients breathe better by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and allowing the airways to open up. Additionally, it also helps to prevent further release of inflammatory chemicals that were triggered by the initial allergic reaction.
  • The FDA approved EpiPen in December 1987.

What brand names are available for EpiPen?

EpiPen, EpiPen Jr

Is EpiPen available as a generic drug?

No

Do I need a prescription for EpiPen?

Yes

What is the EpiPen used for?

Epinephrine auto injectors are used for emergency treatment of allergic reactions, including

  • anaphylactic reactions caused by inset stings or bites,
  • allergen immunotherapy,
  • foods,
  • drugs,
  • chemicals used for diagnostic testing substances such as radiocontrast media, and
  • other allergens.

EpiPen also is used for treating anaphylaxis due to exercise or unknown causes.

EpiPen is used for emergency use only and are should not replace proper medical care.

What is the dosage for EpiPen?

  • The recommended dose is the contents of 1 autoinjector (0.3 mg or 0.15 mg) injected under the skin or into the muscle of the thigh.
  • The dose may be repeated after 5-15 minutes if symptoms persist.
  • Patients that weigh 30 kg or more (approximately 66 pounds or more) should receive 0.3 mg (EpiPen) and patients that weigh 15 to 30 kg (33 pounds to 66 pounds) should receive 0.15 mg (EpiPen Jr).
  • EpiPen may be injected through clothing if necessary.

Which drugs or supplements interact with EpiPen?

  • Administration of epinephrine to patients taking cardiac glycosides, diuretics (water pills), or drugs for treating irregular heartbeats (anti-arrhythmics) can cause the development of irregular heartbeats.
  • The effects of epinephrine may be enhanced by medicines such as tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl), and certain antihistamines.
  • The treatment benefits of epinephrine can be reduced by beta-adrenergic blocking medicines such as propranolol (Inderal) and alpha-adrenergic blocking medicines such as phentolamine (Regitine, OraVerse).
  • Some anti-migraine medications may also interfere with the benefits of epinephrine treatment.

Is EpiPen safe to take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Use of epinephrine has not been adequately evaluated in pregnant women. Use of epinephrine in animal studies was associated with birth defects. Epinephrine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
  • It is not known if epinephrine is excreted in breast milk. Since many drugs are excreted in human milk and have the potential of causing harm to the nursing infant, caution should be used when epinephrine is administered to a nursing mother.

What else should you know about EpiPen?

What preparations of EpiPen are available?

Autoinjector: 0.15 mg/0.3 ml, 0.3 mg/0.3 ml

How should I keep EpiPen stored?
  • EpiPen should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C and 30 C (59 F and 86 F).
  • It shouldn’t be refrigerated.
  • Epinephrine is light sensitive and should be stored in the carrier tube provided to protect it from light.




SLIDESHOW


Could I Be Allergic? Discover Your Allergy Triggers
See Slideshow

Medically Reviewed on 11/20/2019

References


FDA Prescribing Information.



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