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Epinephrine Overdose Warning Issued

March 22, 2017

Epinephrine overdose warning issued

As of June 16, 2010, there is a nationwide shortage of prefilled epinephrine syringes that creates the potential for serious, even fatal, medication errors due to inappropriate dosing.  Although the manufacturer planned to ramp up production to satisfy demand by early July, so further information on the shortage has been forthcoming. 

The prefilled emergency syringes are used for heart attacks, drownings, electrocutions and other emergency situations when a patient’s heart is stopped.  They are used by ambulance crews, hospitals and clinics throughout the nation. Because of the shortage of prefilled syringes, there is a high risk of medication dosing errors resulting in death or serious injury.  Health care workers may not understand or even be aware of the difference between the various concentrations of the medication that they will need to administer, and may administer the wrong dosages.  Reports have already been received of deaths from health care workers miscalculating the correct epinephrine doses. 

Only a single manufacturer of the prefilled emergency epinephrine syringes remains in the United States: Hospira Inc.  The shortage does not include self-administered 0.3 and 0.15 mg epinephrine injection products, commonly referred to by the brand name EpiPen, which are used to treat severe allergic reactions to insect bites, foods, medications, latex or other causes.

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