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An under-the-tongue alternative to EpiPen

JUL 2006

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People who have anaphylactic reactions to insect stings and other allergens can’t afford to be afraid of needles.

One quick jab with an EpiPen—the common brand name for self-injected epinephrine—can stop the reaction.

In a severe case of anaphylaxis, that poke can save a person’s life.

But needles scare some people off.

So researchers are investigating alternative ways of delivery epinephrine. One possibility is sublingual—under the tongue—delivery.

At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) in March 2006, Canadian researchers reported promising results for a sublingual tablet.

Lower doses didn’t work so well, but they found that a 40 mg sublingual dose of epinephrine was roughly equivalent to a 0.3 mg injection with respect to the amount of epinephrine that gets into the bloodstream.

Their experiments were done in rabbits, not people, so the findings are preliminary. Even so, they point the way to studies in humans and the possibility of a noninvasive way to fend of an anaphylactic reaction.

For the AAAI statement on epinerphrine click here