Epinephrine Pen Won’t Work On Obese School Children

The Epinephrine pen stocked in schools may not work on obese children because of an issue with the Epi-Pen injectors.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Tennessee is the latest state to pass an Epinephrine law requiring school systems to stock the drug.

Politicians are passing Epinephrine laws because many schools are more than 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. If a child were to be stung with a wasp, or ate a peanut, and had trouble breathing the drive to the hospital would be far too long according to Dr. Michael Pistiner, a pediatric allergist:

“Epinephrine is the first line treatment for these severe reactions. Studies show that delays in treatment with epinephrine increase risk of death.”

So far, four states have enacted Epinephrine laws requiring the drug be stocked inside schools without a prescription. Other states require a doctor’s prescription in order to keep Epinephrine in schools.

The drug is typically administered through an Epinephrine pen, or an Epi-Pen. This device is an auto injector which releases a short, spring activated needle into a muscle when pressed up against the skin.

Unfortunately, the Epinephrine pen has one fatal flaw. The needle of the Epinephrine pen may be too short to work on obese children because they couldn’t reach the muscle through the layers of fat:

“Epinephrine works best when injected into the muscle. When it is injected into the fat layer of the skin it takes longer to reach the blood stream. When a person is having a severe allergic reaction they need the medicine to work as soon as possible.”

As an example, an Epinephrine injection would be effective in eight minutes with muscle. But injecting into the fat would take an average of 34 minutes to work, while a bee sting could cause death within 15 minutes.

But doctors also point out that increasing the needle length of the Epinephrine pen could be dangerous since the needle could potentially hit bone if not administered into a thick muscle.