Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Diabetes Care. 2001 Apr;24(4):701-4.

Epipen as an alternative to glucagon in the treatment of hypoglycemia in children with diabetes.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.



Fear of a severe hypoglycemic reaction is a major obstacle to achieving near-normal plasma glucose levels. Although parenteral glucagon is effective in treating these reactions, it is cumbersome to use, causes severe nausea, and is impractical in the school setting. Epinephrine is available as a premixed injection (Epipen) that may be used by all care providers. Using Epipen to treat hypoglycemia may be an effective, safe, and easy-to-use alternative to glucagon.


Ten children (age 11.7 +/- 2.4 years) with type 1 diabetes were studied on two occasions. After an overnight equilibration period, hypoglycemia was induced via an insulin pump (1 mU x kg(-1) x min(-1)). At a blood glucose level of 2.8 mmol/l, either glucagon (1 mg) or epinephrine (0.3 mg), in random order, was administered intramuscularly and responses were monitored.


Plasma free insulin concentrations were similar in both studies. Plasma glucose levels increased by 1.7 +/- 0.2 mmol/l (mean +/- SEM) in 10 min and by 2.6 +/- 0.2 mmol/l in 15 min with administration of glucagon and were not consistently increased with administration of epinephrine (P < 0.01). Peak glucagon concentrations after administration of glucagon were >60-fold higher than basal concentrations. After administration of epinephrine, peak epinephrine levels were 20-fold higher than basal concentrations.


Epinephrine does not seem to be an adequate substitute for glucagon in the treatment of severe hypoglycemia. The effectiveness of glucagon in reversing hypoglycemia and its side effects of nausea and vomiting are likely related to the markedly supraphysiologic plasma levels achieved with the standard intramuscular dose.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center