Epinephrine: Challenges, Choices and the Concordance Solution

The life-saving drug epinephrine, an important product in the healthcare industry, has had a rollercoaster of a decade. This essential drug, one of few pharmaceuticals required in the U.S. to operate any medical facility or ambulance, can treat severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis as well as cardiac arrest and severe asthma attacks.

From shortages to pricing issues to the dangers of general use, epinephrine has a storied past in need of a timely solution.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur very quickly, sometimes within minutes, after exposure to an allergen. Common symptoms include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and shock. If not treated immediately, most commonly with epinephrine, it can result in unconsciousness or even death. The respiratory effects of anaphylaxis are the primary concern as difficulty breathing such as rapid breathing or shortness of breath are what eventually lead to unconsciousness or death.

Most extreme allergen sufferers keep epinephrine within arms reach in order to treat a reaction quickly. Healthcare providers, including close family members, are under extreme stress during anaphylactic episodes, leading to mistakes in providing proper dosage.

Epinephrine is a neurotransmitter most commonly used to treat anaphylactic shock, not to be confused with norepinephrine which is used to treat dangerously low blood pressure in cases such as septic shock. Epinephrine (adrenaline) belongs to a class of compounds known as catecholamines. Chemically, epinephrine and norepinephrine are very similar. However, epinephrine works on both alpha and beta receptors, while norepinephrine only works on alpha receptors. Dosage can be particularly tricky as having too much or too little can cause serious effects on your health.

Those in the healthcare industry know all too well about the issues with epinephrine. From epinephrine shortages and auto-injector hardware demand causing frequent back orders to brand name price gouging for popular auto-injectors and equally high-priced generic alternatives, this essential product can be a major challenge to obtain for those who need it on hand. In addition to its storied history over recent years, epinephrine is frequently used in emergency situations and because of the nature of this product, patients are frequently given incorrect dosage.

Epinephrine in Healthcare
Epinephrine errors are not limited to prehospital care. Pennsylvania found that errors had reached epidemic levels across all areas of healthcare including emergency, inpatient, surgery, outpatient and anesthesia. Errors with concentrated epinephrine were significantly higher than those observed with other medications. Studies testing the performance of healthcare providers while dosing epinephrine find a high rate of errors, over 60 percent, and consistent failures in administering correct dosage.

One common cause for epinephrine under or overdoses can be attributed to the design of commonly used syringes. The standard tuberculin syringe has almost 0.1mL of dead space, which can result in an overdose for a child in the 17 to 22-pound weight range. Low dead space syringes are an option as they improve accuracy when dosing medications that are as concentrated as 1mg/mL of epinephrine – especially when dosing children. Another major concern is that standard 1mL syringes have Luer tips that can mate with a Luer Lock or Luer IV tubing. This feature makes accidental IV route administration possible – with potentially fatal consequences.

How confident are you that your team will always provide the correct concentration of epinephrine, especially in emergency situations? How beneficial would a product three times more affordable than a traditional epinephrine auto-injector be to your team? 

Concordance Healthcare Solutions recognizes that every second counts in healthcare, especially in emergency situations. We are dedicated to providing patients with the right products at the right time. For customers searching for an epinephrine solution, Concordance has an answer.

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