Adrenaline Auto-Injectors – Importance of Patient Education and Advice

Patients and their representative organisations have raised issues with the PSI around the supply of different brands of adrenaline auto-injectors to patients. Concern has been expressed that the supply of different products can cause confusion for patients and the importance that a patient can appropriately use any product that they have been supplied.

In light of these concerns, the PSI would like to remind pharmacists about the importance of providing appropriate patient counselling each time they dispense an adrenaline auto-injector to a patient. You should be satisfied that the patient or their carer has all the required information to act quickly in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.

  • During counselling you should confirm the patient’s understanding of their condition including early signs and symptoms that may indicate that they are having an anaphylactic reaction. You should also stress to the patient the importance of carrying an adrenaline auto-injector with them at all times.
  • As you are aware, the method of administration may vary between brands of adrenaline auto-injector and therefore you should always take time to explain the administration technique for the particular product being supplied to the patient.
  • Trainer pens are available from the manufacturers of adrenaline auto-injectors, which you can use to demonstrate the appropriate technique and check the patient’s understanding. The trainer pens can also be given to the patient to take home with them (or they can order their own from the manufacturer’s website) so that they can regularly practice the technique and show their friends and family.
  • Every effort should be made to ensure the same brand of adrenaline auto-injector is supplied to a patient on each occasion. Any change in a patient’s usual brand of auto-injector should be carefully considered and should be discussed with the patient and/or, where appropriate, their prescriber. When changing product you should, explain the reasons for this and most importantly demonstrate the new product to the patient or carer.
  • While the PSI is aware that there have been issues with acquiring and maintaining adequate stock of these products, products with the longest possible expiry date should be supplied to patients. You should highlight the expiry date on the product to the patient and stress the need to replace the auto-injector before this date is reached.

Free training materials, including trainer pens, patient leaflets, demonstration videos and smartphone apps, for both healthcare professionals and patients, are available on the websites of the various manufacturers of adrenaline auto-injectors:

We recommend that you use these resources and direct your patients to them where appropriate.

This update was included in Issue 5 of the PSI Newsletter (September) 2016