Minister of Health
United Kingdom

Hydrocortisone is a steroid replacement hormone that medically replaces a naturally-produced essential hormone called cortisol. It is taken by many people who have pituitary disease, as their condition causes them not to produce this hormone naturally.

This vital hormone helps everyone to cope with stress and is required to be given in larger amounts if a pituitary patient were to become ill, suffer severe stress or have an accident. An injection containing 100mg of hydrocortisone is usually given so that the patient isn’t compromised by a cortisol crisis (which could lead to coma, or, in extreme cases, cardiac arrest and death).

When a normal person becomes ill, the pituitary stimulates the production of cortisol to cope with the increased demands on the body, but in people with pituitary conditions, the message to create cortisol is not sent, so the patient needs to take extra hydrocortisone. Often, oral hydrocortisone tablets are sufficient, but where there is unusual stress, infection or vomiting a higher, faster dose is required, and this can only be given by injection.

Failure to administer an injection within a few minutes can lead to a full Addisonian or Adrenal Crisis, and this in turn leads to hypovolemic shock, coma, or, in extreme cases, cardiac arrest and death. The shorter the time that the patient requiring the drug has the injection administered, the fewer and less severe the after-effects.

Repeatedly, patients report that when they have called an ambulance, the time taken waiting for a paramedic to arrive, understand the situation and administer the drug is too long and invariably leads to a hospital stay. This is costly to the NHS, and places unnecessary stress on the patient’s body organs. As a result, patients tend to self-administer Hydrocortisone using traditional syringes and needles, but such an injection is not trivial to prepare. If the patient becomes unwell enough to need an injection, they will be feeling dizzy and quite unwell and this makes the intricate process of loading the syringe, changing needles and then injecting themselves almost impossible.

We, The Pituitary Foundation, the voice of the pituitary population, consistently receive reports from patients and their families that the injection is extremely difficult to prepare and use. Some patients also have dexterity or sight problems and, for them, injecting themselves is not an option. They have to rely on others being there when they become ill and others trained in injecting might not be available.

Our endocrine nurses throughout the UK train patients and their carers to inject, but this is never easy and sticking a needle into your loved ones can be distressing. It also means that many patients fear travelling away from home, especially by themselves, as they cannot help themselves if they become ill. Many people then limit their lives because of this artificial restriction.

We the undersigned ask the Minister for Health to urge the NHS to source a device like an Epi-Pen so that pituitary patients can self-administer Hydrocortisone injections when they become ill. The current and only injection device available is not easy for a non medical person to use.

This would lead to lower overall cost of care and improve the quality of life for people with pituitary conditions in the UK.

We need your signature to support us in raising this issue and promoting the needed change to more user-friendly hydrocortisone injection devices so that people with pituitary conditions taking this essential hormone can give themselves or be given the injection they need in emergency situations.

These injections save lives.

The Supply user-friendly Hydrocortisone Injection Devices petition to Minister of Health was written by Pat McBride and is in the category Health at GoPetition.