Buying an adrenaline (epinephrine) injector FAQ

adrenaline injector FAQAllergy & Anaphylaxis Australia answers common questions concerning the process of buying an adrenaline (epinephrine) injector (such as Anapen®, EpiPen®). 

Q 1: How do I buy the two adrenaline injectors I am entitled to (as prescribed by my doctor) through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)?

You need to take your authority prescription to a pharmacy and you will be given two adrenaline injectors (as prescribed by your doctor). The total cost for the two adrenaline injectors will be the cost of a normal prescription.

Your doctor/nurse practitioner should provide a current Action Plan for Anaphylaxis (red in colour) at your appointment when providing you with the authority prescription. The template is available on the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) website at https://allergy.org.au/hp/ascia-plans-action-and-treatment

Q 2: How do I get a longer expiry date on my adrenaline injector?

Check with the pharmacy. If they have adrenaline injectors with an expiry date of less than ten months you can consider asking them to order you an adrenaline injector with a longer expiry date. You may have to wait a couple of days for the order to arrive at the pharmacy, so do not leave it until the last minute to renew your adrenaline injector prescription. You may also like to phone a few pharmacies in your area to see which pharmacy has adrenaline injectors with the longest expiry dates.

On very rare occasions adrenaline injectors may not be available with expiry dates of more than ten months. If this occurs, it is better to accept an in-date adrenaline injector even if the expiry date is short.

Q3: When do I replace my adrenaline injector?

You must replace your adrenaline injector if:
  • you have used it
  • it is about to expire or
  • the liquid within the device becomes cloudy/discoloured or has floating particles.
Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure whether your adrenaline injector can still be used in an emergency after it has been stored incorrectly (e.g. at high temperatures in the car).

NOTE: If you have used an adrenaline injector you should replace it immediately. You should always have at least one in-date adrenaline injector with you at all times.

Q4: How do I get a new PBS prescription for two adrenaline injectors?

After your first PBS authority prescription, follow-up prescriptions can be written by any health professional, including a GP, paediatrician, nurse practitioner, or clinical immunology/allergy specialist. The doctor/nurse practitioner will need to obtain an authority from Services Australia on each occasion. You can only purchase two in-date adrenaline injectors through the PBS on authority prescription at any one time. If you use one or both of your devices you can replace them using an authority prescription, even if it has only been a short time since your last adrenaline injector authority prescription.

Similarly, if you purchase a device that has an expiry date shorter than 12 months you can replace the devices through the PBS on authority prescription when they are due to expire.

Your doctor/nurse practitioner should provide an ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis (red in colour) with every prescription for an adrenaline injector, even if your trigger allergens have not changed. Templates are available at https://allergy.org.au/hp/ascia-plans-action-and-treatment The ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis is regularly updated with the best emergency treatment advice for anaphylaxis and you should request a new one with each new adrenaline injector prescription.

NOTE: Adrenaline injectors are not generally prescribed for people with medication allergies even if they have had a previous anaphylaxis. This is because medications are much easier to avoid than food or insects for example.

Q5: I have purchased two adrenaline injectors on a PBS authority prescription. Can I buy more?

Yes, they can be bought over the counter from any pharmacy/chemist. An injector purchased over the counter without a prescription will cost around $80 to $120.

Q6: Does my private health insurance cover the cost of any extra adrenaline injectors I purchase?

Some private health insurance funds will cover a portion of the cost of adrenaline injectors purchased on a general prescription (i.e. not a PBS authority prescription). Please confirm with your private health fund whether you can get a rebate under your level of private health cover for a full-price adrenaline injector purchased with a general prescription. You will need to order the non-PBS adrenaline injectors on a general prescription and obtain a special receipt from your pharmacist. This receipt will allow you to make a private health insurance claim if you are entitled to it.

If you purchase a device over the counter without a general prescription, you will not be entitled to any rebate.

Q7: How can a childcare centre, school, workplace, restaurant, sports centre, etc. buy an adrenaline injector for its first aid kit?

Adrenaline injectors can be purchased over the counter from any pharmacy/chemist. The cost will be around $80 to $120. There is no government subsidy unless adrenaline injectors are prescribed to a specific individual on authority prescription (an individual can only have two devices ordered through the PBS at any one time). Organisations that purchase an adrenaline injector for general use must keep an ASCIA First Aid Plan for Anaphylaxis (orange in colour) with the device (templates are available at https://allergy.org.au/hp/ascia-plans-action-and-treatment). Please refer to the ASCIA information on adrenaline injectors for general use at https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis/adrenaline-autoinjectors-for-general-use

Q 8: If I have a Health Care Card, can I get an adrenaline injector cheaper?

You will be able to purchase the two adrenaline injectors provided on a PBS authority prescription for the Health Care Card prescription price. There is no discount on over-the-counter devices bought without an authority prescription, although some private health funds may offer a rebate. Speak with your health fund before purchasing adrenaline injectors without an authority prescription (see Q6 above).

Q 9: The expiry date on the adrenaline injector only states a month and year. When in that month should I replace the device?

Your adrenaline injector expires at the end of the month indicated on the device. You should allow enough time to make an appointment to see your doctor/nurse practitioner for a PBS authority prescription and to present the prescription to your pharmacy. Remember that the pharmacy may need to order the adrenaline injector, so allow a couple of days depending on your location. It is best to start the process of obtaining a prescription in the middle of the month the device expires in case there are any delays.

Q 10: How do I administer (use) the adrenaline injector?

Ask your doctor/nurse practitioner to show you when you get the prescription for the adrenaline injector. You can also ask the pharmacist to demonstrate how to administer the device. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) has a quick and easy-to-understand video to watch that demonstrates the use of the injector - see https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/risk/adrenaline-epinephrine-autoinjector-use

You will also find instructions on the adrenaline injector itself and your ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis, which should be specific to the device you were prescribed.

A&AA encourages people at risk of anaphylaxis and their carers to purchase an adrenaline injector trainer device so they can practise using it. This also allows others, such as family, friends, colleagues, school/childcare staff, to learn how to administer the adrenaline injector in case of an emergency. See Q11 for a link to A&AA’s online shop.

Q 11: How do I get an adrenaline injector trainer device?

Adrenaline injector trainers are available for a small cost from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s online shop at https://allergyfacts.org.au/shop/training-accessories/epipen-trainer-individual

Adrenaline injector trainer devices do not contain any medication or a needle. A trainer device should be clearly labelled with the word ‘Trainer’ so it is not confused with the real device containing adrenaline and a needle. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) suggests using masking or electrical tape to do this so that it looks different to the real adrenaline injector. Adrenaline injector trainers should be stored in a different location to the real adrenaline injectors so there is no confusion about which device to use in an emergency. Practise using the device every 3– 4 months so you are familiar with the device in an emergency occurs.

Q 12: My pharmacy/chemist is unable to obtain an EpiPen®. What should I do?

Your pharmacy/chemist should contact the manufacturer (Viatris) on 1800 931 625 for advice on how to access EpiPen® stock. If they are unsuccessful please ask them to call Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia on 1300 728 000.

Q 13: How do I know which adrenaline injector is right for my child?

Your medical practitioner will prescribe the correct dose adrenaline injector based on the child’s weight. Information from ASCIA about injector dose recommendations is available at https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis/adrenaline-autoinjector-prescription. Dose recommendations are also on the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis.
 

ASCIA has an extensive list of questions and answers on adrenaline injectors and ASCIA Action Plans on its website at:

https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis/adrenaline-autoinjectors-faqs

https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis/action-plans-for-allergic-reactions-faq

Content created July 2020 

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IN AN EMERGENCY

If you are having an allergic reaction follow advice on your ASCIA Action Plan.

If in doubt, give the Anapen® or EpiPen®.

Do not call us for emergency advice.

If you do not have an ASCIA Action Plan and/or an Anapen® or EpiPen® call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.