Epi-Pen auto-injectors are devices used to inject adrenaline into patients suffering a serious allergic reaction. Many people who are at risk of such reactions are advised to carry an Epipen with them at all times. Despite their potential to save lives, there are many barriers to the effectiveness of Epipens, including: their cost, size and bulk – which puts people off carrying them; a relatively short shelf-life – which means they need replacing frequently; and the need for training to ensure their proper use – which means they can be administered incorrectly.
Researchers at the Nova Southeastern University, USA, are currently working on developing an oral pill to deliver the same effect in a more user friendly format. In a research breakthrough, the team have developed a tablet that will allow the drug to work quickly and effectively when placed under the tongue, as opposed to previous work that has seen the drug lose its life-saving potential when ingested.
A small pill-format will offer a longer shelf-life and the possibility of amending dosage according to the patient, whereas the Epipen is limited to either a child dose or an adult dose.
The research team plans to start human trials within the next two years to prove safety and efficacy in humans before it can be made available to the public.
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