23. October 2019
Increasing incidence of severe allergic reactions

Over the last ten years, there has been a sevenfold increase in hospital stays due to severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, especially among children. Experts revealed this finding at Germany’s biggest allergy congress in Hanover.

Peanuts, hazelnuts and milk protein are the most common triggers of anaphylactic reactions in children. But the incidence of severe reactions in adults is also on the rise. Wasp and bee venom, legumes, animal protein and pain medications are the most common triggers in adults.

“Anaphylaxis is significantly underestimated – one in a hundred people experiences anaphylactic shock at least once in their lifetime”, said Christian Vogelberg, chairman of the Society for Paediatric Allergology and Environmental Medicine (Gesellschaft für Pädiatrische Allergologie und Umweltmedizin – GPA).

Exact figures are not available because anaphylactic reactions are currently not notifiable in Germany. An official register could change this.


Dispute over adrenaline autoinjectors

Furthermore, allergy experts at the congress criticised a framework agreement concluded by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds and the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists. The agreement, in effect since 1 July 2019, stipulates that pharmacists must provide one of the four cheapest adrenaline autoinjectors (AAI) as emergency medication to persons at risk.

But the problem is that the AAI received in the pharmacy may be different from the one prescribed to the patient. Patients have therefore not been trained to use this particular model of syringe and may not be able to administer it properly in an emergency. Substituting a different AAI for the prescribed model could put human lives at risk, claims allergy expert and congress president Thomas Werfel of the Hanover Medical School. Experts are also concerned about legal problems that may arise: If a stranger administers the injection in the event of an emergency, they would normally not be liable. However, this exclusion of liability only applies if the injector is registered in the patient’s written allergy and anaphylaxis emergency plan or a liability disclaimer. Werfel and his colleagues are calling for the framework agreement to be revised.




Press release ‘Kinder zunehmend von schwerenallergischen Reaktionenbetroffen’ (‘Incidence of severe allergic reactions in children on the rise’). German Allergy Congress, 25 September 2019, author: Kerstin Striewe. Retrieved on 26 September 2019 (in German). Last accessed 26.09.2019

Text: kf/ktg