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Vegan-friendly EpiPen

Updated: Jan 24

What is an EpiPen?

EpiPen is the brand name for an auto-injector that contains epinephrine as well as a common term used to describe all epinephrine auto-injector products. Epinephrine is a synthetic form of adrenaline that alleviates symptoms of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, anaphylactic reactions occur in about 1 in 50 Americans.


What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a potentially severe or life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs after exposure to allergens. The onset of anaphylactic symptoms can occur within minutes of exposure and symptoms may vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include:

  • Hives

  • Itching

  • Flushing

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or roof of the mouth

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Tightness of throat and/or chest

  • Dizziness

  • Weak pulse

Common Allergens That Cause Anaphylaxis

Common Allergens That Cause Anaphylaxis: Food Allergies, Insect Stings and Bites, Medications, Latex

There are many food allergies that can cause anaphylaxis. The most common ones include:

  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts

  • Shellfish

  • Fish

  • Cow’s milk

  • Eggs

  • Wheat

  • Soy

EpiPens and Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-Gal Syndrome is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic condition in which people experience allergic reactions when exposed to alpha-gal sugar. The alpha-gal sugar can be found in meats such as pork, beef, lamb, etc. as well as in products made from those animals (cow’s milk, gelatin, etc.). Alpha-Gal Syndrome reactions differ from person to person and anaphylactic reactions may occur after 2-6 hours of eating meat or dairy products. In people who experience anaphylaxis with Alpha-Gal Syndrome, timely use of an EpiPen can save their lives when used appropriately.


How Do I Use an EpiPen?

Once prescribed an EpiPen, it is important to carefully read the instructions on how to use it before having to use it in an emergency. When using an EpiPen:

How to Inject Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
  • Remove any caps that may be covering the needle.

  • Hold the injector with one hand with the needle end pointing down.

  • Use the other hand to remove the safety top by pulling the top straight up and away.

  • Place the needle end against the outer thigh, at a 90° angle, through clothing if needed (as shown in the figure on the right).

  • Push down firmly and hold in place for a minimum of 3 seconds, you should hear a distinct pop sound when pressed against the thigh.

EpiPens can be self-administered or administered with assistance and can be injected while standing or while seated. A second EpiPen may be administered if the symptoms continue or come back. After injecting an EpiPen, seek emergency medical help right away.


How Do EpiPens Work?

When used during a life-threatening allergic reaction, epinephrine works to constrict blood vessels to increase blood pressure, relax smooth muscles in the lungs to reduce wheezing and improve breathing, stimulate the heart, and reduce hives and swelling that may occur.


Common Side Effects of EpiPens

  • Fast or “pounding” heartbeat

  • Sweating

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Shakiness

  • Headache

  • Weakness

  • Feelings of over-excitement, nervousness, or anxiety

Are EpiPens Animal-Free?

Below is a list of the different epinephrine auto-injector products from various manufacturers that are verified animal-free:

Generic

Brand

Manufacturer

Strength*

Animal-Free (Yes/No)

​Epinephrine Injection

EpiPen

Mylan/Viatris

0.3mg/0.3mL 0.15mg/0.15mL

Yes

​Epinephrine Injection

​--

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

0.3mg/0.3mL 0.15mg/0.15mL

Yes

​Epinephrine Injection

Adrenaclick

AvKare

0.3mg/0.3mL

Yes

Epinephrine Injection

--

​Teva Pharmaceuticals

0.3mg/0.3mL 0.15mg/0.15mL

Yes

Epinephrine Injection

Auvi-Q

Kaleo

0.3mg/0.3mL 0.15mg/0.15mL

0.1mg/0.1mL

Yes

*0.3mg/0.3mL for people weighing above 66 pounds; 0.15mg/0.15mL for people weighing between 33-66 pounds; 0.1mg/0.1mL for people weighing between 16.5-33 pounds


Is There an Epinephrine Product That is Not Injectable?

In recent news, neffy, an epinephrine nasal spray in development could become an alternative to auto-injectors. However, as of September 19, 2023, the FDA is requiring ARS Pharma to perform further studies on the product before it can receive approval and go onto the market. Although this is a setback, an epinephrine nasal spray is something that may become a reality soon and can benefit people who prefer a needle-free option to treat anaphylactic reactions.


Conclusion

EpiPens or epinephrine auto-injector products are crucial prescription medications for people who are at risk of anaphylactic reactions. It is important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, act quickly by using an EpiPen, and seek emergency medical care afterward. Managing anaphylactic reactions is difficult enough, so we at VeganMed have done the research to find animal-free EpiPen options so you don't have to!


Co-authored by: Madison Rose Tan

 

Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product. The information provided in this post is accurate and up to date as of the date it was written. However, please note that circumstances and facts may change over time, and new information may become available that could alter the accuracy or relevance of the content. We encourage readers to verify and cross-reference any information provided here with trusted sources or consult relevant professionals for the most current and accurate updates.

 

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Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!


If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!




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