The federal health minister has signed an order to allow emergency imports of an epinephrine auto-injector not usually authorized for sale in Canada.

The move comes in response to ongoing shortages of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto injectors, the only epinephrine auto-injectors currently marketed for sale in Canada. 

The devices deliver medication crucial to patients experiencing anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can be deadly if untreated.

In an alert notice for health care professionals, Health Canada said the higher dose AUVI-Q epinephrine auto-injector will be available for order at the end of this week, and the lower dose may follow depending on need and availability.

It said AUVI-Q is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and works a little differently than an EpiPen. It has a retractable needle and an electronic system that provides audio instruction, in English only.

Pharmacists are reminded to review the product information with patients or their caregivers.