Adrenaline Auto-Injectors: 'Should I - shouldn't I?'

“Should I use an adrenaline auto-injector on someone if I wasn’t sure they were having an anaphylactic reaction?”


Having been heavily involved with adrenaline for many years and specifically adrenaline auto-injectors (not as a medical professional, I should add), my friends and family always asked: “Would using an adrenaline auto-injector have been the wrong thing to do if I thought they were having an anaphylactic reaction but then it turns out they weren’t.”


Before I discuss this, I should first point out that there is always a risk regardless of the drug being administered or taken; a simple aspirin or paracetamol tablet can cause harm. That said, adrenaline is a Prescription Only Medication (POM) and should be treated as such. As with all POMs they must have a document called a Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPCs) which provides a thorough overview of the drug e.g. Dose, side- effects, contraindications and other safety data.


A contraindication is a specific situation in which a drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the person.


These documents can be found here. This brings me to the first point I would like to make. For all adrenaline auto-injectors currently available in the UK, one statement is consistent in all their SmPCs and I quote: “There are no known absolute contraindications to the use of [adrenaline] auto injector during an allergic emergency.” There are very few drugs out there that have no contraindications.


In addition, auto-injectors provide a pre-defined dose of adrenaline; therefore, overdosing would be extremely difficult, if not, impossible. Don’t forget that adrenaline is a hormone that the body naturally produces and it affects multiple organs in our day-to-day lives in a positive way.


Therefore, based on the current evidence, the benefit of using appropriate doses of intramuscular adrenaline far exceeds the risk in an allergic emergency.


Over the years, I have spoken to multiple healthcare professionals who specialise in allergy and/or anaphylaxis and, again, there is one consistent message through all my conversations which is…


“IF IN DOUBT ADMINISTER AN ADRENALINE AUTO- INJECTOR THEN DIAL 999, ASK FOR AN AMBULANCE AND STATE ‘ANAPHYLAXIS’”


- By John Eshelby, ARK Director


For more information on anaphylaxis, check out our guides here.

ARK Kits developed in partnership with

Allergy UK Logo with transparent backgro

ARK Kits designed in partnership with

Arcadia-Medical-Logo.png
  • ARK Facebook
  • ARK Twitter
  • ARK LinkedIn
  • YouTube

©2020 by ARK Solutions