The FDA recently approved a new epinephrine injection, called Symjepi, for emergency treatment of allergic reactions; the news means that consumers may soon have another, potentially cheaper, alternative to EpiPen.

Symjepi provides two pre-filled single doses of epinephrine to use for immediate treatment of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, Drug Discovery & Development reported. In addition to being less expensive than the EpiPen, the drug is reportedly easier to use, as it is a syringe, not an auto-injector. Symjepi is also smaller than the EpiPen, and although a price has not yet been set, the manufacturers believe it may sell for even cheaper than the generic version of EpiPen.

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“We are very excited by this approval,” said Dennis J. Carlo, President and CEO of Adamis in a press statement, Drug Discovery reported. “The second submission (to the FDA) is for the junior version of Symjepi."

The drug can be used to treat a number of allergic reactions, such as those to insect stings and bites, food allergies, drug allergies, as well as exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and is hoped to be made available for purchase later this year.

In the case of an allergic reaction, the body's immune system releases antibodies to help combat an otherwise harmless intruder, such as a certain food or drug. According to WebMD, the immune system cells send out a chemical called histamine, which causes the blood vessels to expand and triggers other allergic reactions, such as inflamed skin and stomach problems.

In extreme cases, an allergic reaction can cause something known as anaphylaxis. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, these responses are more common reactions to food, insect stings, and medication allergies.

In the case of anaphylaxis, individuals may begin to have red rashes or hives on the body, and may also experience wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, and vomiting. These symptoms can start within five to 30 minutes of coming into contact with an allergen.

Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline, and is a natural hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, News Medical Life Sciences reported. In addition to its natural uses, such as the flight and fight response to physical threats, the hormone can be injected to help relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions. The hormone works by opening the airways to reduce breathing difficulties and narrowing the blood vessels to help combat low blood pressure and ease faint feelings. The results are only short lived however, and individuals still need to be taken to the hospital following an extreme allergic reaction. However, in many cases these drugs can be life-saving, giving patients the relief they need before they can receive professional medical care.

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