Storing, Preparing and Injecting Acthar
Injection Preparation and Instructions for Intramuscular (IM) Injection
The following sections provide easy step-by-step instructions on how to intramuscularly inject Acthar. They review all the items you will need when injecting, how to find areas on the body where Acthar can be injected, how to complete the injection itself, how to store Acthar, and how to throw it away.
Getting Started With Acthar
Acthar is given by an intramuscular (into the muscle) injection. The steps included in this guide are intended only to supplement the detailed instructions and training provided to you in person by your doctor or nurse. You also are eligible to have a licensed nurse visit you in the privacy of your home to provide Home Injection Training Services to help you or your care partner learn how to inject Acthar. If you are interested in these services, more information is available here.
Once you receive Acthar:
- Check the vial to make sure that it's Acthar.
- Check the expiration date on the Acthar vial to make
sure you are using it before the date listed
- Prior to each use, check for any signs of contamination (cloudiness, small flecks, etc)
Do not use if:
- the vial is expired
- any signs of contamination are seen
Items you will need when injecting Acthar:
- Vial of Acthar
- A 23g or 25g needle
- Some packages may include a 20g needle (not for injection), which can speed the process of drawing Acthar into the syringe.
- Alcohol swabs
- Gauze pads
- Adhesive bandage
- Puncture-resistant container to safely dispose of syringe and needles after use
A 23g or 25g needle can be used to draw Acthar into the syringe and it should be used to inject Acthar
Preparing to inject
- Gather all your needed supplies in one place that will be easy to access when injecting
Remove the needle cap. Insert the needle through the rubber stopper and inject air into the upright vial by pushing down on the plunger until it cannot be pushed farther.
With the tip of the syringe upright and the needle still in the vial, tap the syringe with your finger until any air bubbles rise to the top. If bubbles are present, very slowly press the plunger until only the bubbles are pressed out of the syringe and a droplet starts to form at the needle tip. Check that you still have the amount your doctor prescribed in the syringe. If not, place the needle tip in the gel (medication) and draw in the amount you need and remove bubbles again.
- If using the wider (20g) needle to draw Acthar into the syringe, replace the needle cap, detach the needle, and attach the thinner (23g or 25g) needle; continue to the following sections to find an injection site and learn how to inject Acthar. But remember, the 20g needle is not for injecting.
If using the thinner (23g or 25g) needle to draw Acthar into the syringe, continue to the following sections to find an injection site and learn how to inject Acthar. Before injecting, ensure that the needle remains sterile (ie, do not place on unclean surface)
A Few Things to Remember Before Injecting
- Ask your doctor or nurse which injection areas may be best for you. Common areas include upper arm or thigh.
- When injecting yourself, the muscle along the upper-outer thigh may be best. When injecting others, the muscle in the upper arm may be best.
- You may inject into the same area more than once a week, but rotate the injection sites in that area each time, keeping 1 inch between sites.
Do not inject into:
- Same site (small area of the muscle) more than once a week
- An area that has skin irritation, including red, swollen, or painful areas
- An area that has hardened or is sensitive to touch
- Tattoos, warts, scars, or birthmarks
- Knee or groin area
Injecting the Upper-Outer Thigh Muscle
The following instructions are for self-injections.
You may inject into the same muscle more than once in a week, but rotate the injection sites in that muscle each time, keeping 1 inch between sites.
- Sit comfortably on a firm chair to keep the muscle relaxed.
To locate the correct muscle, place your fingertips on the middle of the thigh and gently press down to locate the thigh bone. The muscle that runs along the upper-outer edge of the thigh bone is the muscle that should be injected.
It is best to inject into the middle third of that muscle. To find the middle third, place the fingertips of one hand on your knee and rest the palm of that hand on your thigh. Place the fingertips of your other hand behind the first hand. The outer area under your second hand is the area to inject.
- See "How to inject" for additional instructions.
Injecting the Upper-Arm Muscle
NOTE: In some patients, the muscle may not be well developed and would not be a suitable area for injections. Consult your doctor or nurse for further guidance. The person receiving the injection can either sit or lie down, whichever is more comfortable, with his or her arm relaxed. The following instructions are for the person giving the injection.
Run your fingers along the collarbone until you reach the shoulder bone at the outermost tip of the shoulder.
- Inject in the area 3 fingertip widths directly below the shoulder bone.
- See "How to inject" for additional instructions.
How to Inject
The steps are the same whether you are injecting yourself or someone else. The steps below should be done after the person receiving the injection has removed clothing around the area to be injected, an injection site has been found, and the person receiving the injection is ready for the injection (see previous instructions for more information).
- Clean the area to be injected with an alcohol swab; let the alcohol dry before injecting.
Press the plunger until a droplet forms at the tip of the needle.
Stretch and hold the skin around the injection site between the thumb and fingers of the hand that is not holding the syringe. Steady the muscle by grasping it on each side
Once the needle is fully in (about 1/8" of the needle should still be visible above the skin), draw back on the plunger to check for blood. It is important to make sure you are not injecting into a vein and checking for blood will determine this.
- If no blood enters the syringe, slowly push the plunger in until the syringe is empty.
- If blood enters the syringe, withdraw the needle and, using a gauze pad, place pressure on the injection site. Start over with a new syringe and a new site for injection.
Please note that this step may not be necessary for all injections. Ask your doctor or nurse if or when you should check for blood
Dispose of the used syringe, needle, and needle cap in a puncture-resistant container. Do not replace the needle cap prior to disposal (see following section for more information about proper disposal of syringes, needles, and vials).
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.