Anaphylaxis treatment: current barriers to adrenaline auto-injector use

Allergy. 2014 Aug;69(8):983-91. doi: 10.1111/all.12387. Epub 2014 May 16.


Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that is increasing in prevalence in the developed world. There is universal expert agreement that rapid intramuscular injection of adrenaline is life-saving and constitutes the first-line treatment of anaphylaxis. The unpredictable nature of anaphylaxis and its rapid progression makes necessary the availability of a portable emergency treatment suitable for self-administration. Thus, anaphylaxis treatment guidelines recommend that at-risk patients are provided with adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs). Despite these clear recommendations, current emergency treatment of anaphylaxis continues to be inadequate in many cases. The aim of this review is to highlight the barriers that exist to the use and availability of AAIs and that prevent proper management of anaphylaxis. In addition, we review the characteristics of all AAIs that are presently available in Europe and the USA and discuss the need for regulatory requirements to establish the performance characteristics of these devices.

Keywords: adrenaline; anaphylaxis; auto-injector; food allergy; regulatory issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Anaphylaxis / epidemiology
  • Disease Management
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Administration
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists
  • Epinephrine