Can I still use an expired Epi-Pen? - Peanut Allergy Information

Can I still use an expired Epi-Pen?

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My Allergist said that Epi-pens are good for years after the expiration date. What do you think?

By carriep on Jun 3, 2013

I think that what they're saying is to keep pens that aren't expired since it's a life or death situation, you wouldn't want to take a chance on using one that won't work properly.

If you realize too late that it's expired, better take the chance than sit and do nothing, but be prepared, keep an eye on expiration dates, see your doctor and get new ones rather than just ignore them and take your chances when in an emergency.

By st_emtp on Mar 15, 2013

So what your saying is that in the event of a life threatening emergency rather than use an expired epi pen and maybe buy a few more minutes til emergency medical personal arrive, you should just sit there and watch your loved one die, without even trying. Did i interpret what your saying correctly?

By BestAllergySites on May 26, 2009

I'm really surprised your allergist said that. While some medications do in fact work after the expire date, they do not work as well.

Exp. dates are for quality purposes. The product will start to deteriorate at or around that date making the medicine less effective.

Given the nature of epi pens and how we travel with them, I would NOT use an epi past it's expire date unless I had no other choice. Epi pens are exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations which make them less reliable. Add to that the statistics that a certain percent of epis don't work at all and you are setting yourself up for disaster.

If you feel the need to hold on to expired epis for emergency purposes, I suppose you could. But I still wouldn't do even that.

I understand where your allergist is coming from, but as an epi pen is used in a life or death situation-I just wouldn't risk it. You may only have one chance to get it right.

Sorry if this sounds negative-it's just my honest opinion.

Ruth

By kalelpeanut on May 26, 2009

Thanks Ruth!

By BestAllergySites on May 26, 2009

You are very welcome!

By 4shveden on Sep 2, 2009

very interesting diskussion

By doofusclo on Sep 2, 2009

The only exception I think to what Ruth has said is financial. I have read about someone who died because they felt they couldn't afford epi pens and had not held on to old ones past the expiration. If you can afford too replace them. But if you can not buy new ones an old one is better then nothing. I practice with my old ones and they are great to give instruction with if you want to train a caretaker.

By kenttrudo on Nov 30, 2009

Great advice, Ruth. Using anything past its expiry is not worth it. Like Ruth said, the reason there are expiry dates is because products like Epi-pens lose their effectiveness over time.

By mamabearserenity on Dec 2, 2009

Our pharmacist said NO! He said with Epi Pens it is absolutely no good once the Expiration Date hits. Check with Dey Pharmaceuticals if that's who your manufacturer is.

By GinaC on Dec 8, 2009

My understanding is that you can absolutely use an expired Epi-Pen.

This was actually discussed at a recent Food Allergy Symposium (ACAAI, Miami) that I attended and Estelle Simons, MD specifically addressed this issue. She has studied this issue with epi-pens that were months and years past their expiration date. (link to the study below)

I am not a physician but my understanding of this is that if an expired epi-pen is the only medicine you have,(to treat anaphylaxis) you use it.

There maybe some loss of potency as others have written but the benefit outweighs the risk.

Obviously, whenever you can, refill your prescriptions.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10808186

Take care, Gina

By mamabearserenity on Jan 8, 2010

I just called Dey Pharmaceuticals and they told me that they get this question a lot. They said, Epi Pens expire at the end of the expiration month. So, for example, if your Epi Pens has an expiration date of January 2010, you would have until the last day of January to replace it.

By lakeswimr on Jan 9, 2010

People have posted about this at kidswithfoodallergies.org who have been to FAAN conferences and who talked to top allergists. Epis lose potency after their expiration dates. They may have full potency a *bit* after the expiration date and certainly it would be better to use one that to use nothing but really they should be replaced when the date expires. I'd go without a lot to keep them current. They are top priority to have. It stinks that some have to worry about their cost.

By jeef on Nov 7, 2010

I hold on to my expired epipen because after I got it i have since lost insurance and any finances to get a new one. I do think epipens expire after time, however i also think that the expiration time that is set is not accurate. I have heard of expired pens working just fine. I think that they set the expiration date before it actually expires so they are able to sell more and make more money. The longer I live in this world the more i tend to expect people, important, and small, to do or say anything to make an extra buck. This is especially common in pharmaceuticals. As long as the epipen is not discolored, and is in good physical shape I think it is acceptable to use a couple years after it expires. However I have no evidence to back this opinion up, so if you have the finances to keep getting new ones then by all means get new ones before the old ones expire.

By jsizz on Dec 16, 2011

I used an epi-pen (exp date October 2009) last night (Dec 2011) and it worked just as well as non-expired epi I have used in the past. Also, while seeing if I had a newer epi, I noticed that 2 separate one year old standard epi-pens had gone cloudy and therefore shouldn't have been used - however, the twinject I have was fine. I don't know if this is a one time thing, or a brand difference. Rule of thumb: look in the little window on the actual epi-pen - it will say do not use if cloudy.

By ccjs on Apr 29, 2012

Of course, the pharmaceutical company is going to say they are not good after the expiration date. Two reasons - money, they want to sell more and to reduce their liability.

By janieinMN on Jun 14, 2012

they've done studies on this -- and as long as it's NOT cloudy, an expired epi-pen is okay to use (within reason of course...).

the amount of epinephrine in the syringe reduces over time. but their conclusion is an expired epi-pen is better than no epi-pen.

our insurance changed and we now have the high deductible ($2,500) and epi-pens are horribly expensive. i feel pretty sick about the ones i had destroyed just cuz they had expired a couple months before. now, after finding this published study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10808186 i'll be keeping all my epi-pens and periodically checking the little window to make sure they're still clear.

By Terismom99 on Jun 27, 2012

Expired Epi-pens ARE effective. I accidently discharged one into my finger trying to empty it before discarding it a few years ago!!! lol. It worked pretty good on ME. Problem is, it was my daughters!! lol.

By Mb1227 on May 4, 2013

I know this an older thread but I'd like to add some input. As others said experation dates are in place because the medication may not be as effective. But if stored properly you could get some more time out of them. If I was having an anaphylactic reaction would I take the expired epi over no epi? Absolutely. You don't only have one shot with the epi pen you can administer a second auto injector to the other leg, or wait til ems arrives to get a second dose that could be more effective. Epi is a very strong drug. An expired epi may buy you that extra few minutes in a life or death situation.

By iconoclast on Aug 5, 2014

There are a lot of absurd statements being made here. Lets start with a reality check: Your allergist knows more than 99% of the people on this board. I'm not suggesting you believe everything he says without question, but just be aware that taking the opinion of some mom who posted to a web site is a pretty foolish thing to do. Unless she can clearly demonstrate that the allergist is wrong and she is right (and she'd need some hard facts to do that) then your best bet is in going with the allergist.

Secondly, Epi-pens (or any drugs, for that matter) begin to decay as soon as they are made. The expiration date is not a magic date when they suddenly stop working, even though the company might like you to believe that, so that you'll buy more Epi-pens more quickly.

Lastly, the company making Epi-pens is more concerned with (1) avoiding lawsuits, and (2) making money. Having an overly-cautious date helps them in both regards. The date they choose might be years away from a more reasonable date, but we'd need measurements of the decay rate of the drug's effectiveness to know for sure. Since I can't offer hard facts, I'm giving you logic and reason. Logic and reason can't give a complete answer to your question, but they can point out when others' answers are loaded with B.S.

What you really want is a measurement of the decay of the drug's effectiveness. I don't know if they publish that, but you can be 100% certain that the decay doesn't begin the day after it officially expires, and suddenly make a complete (or even drastic) drop toward 0% effectiveness.

UPDATE: Others have studied this matter. Here's a quick excerpt:

"While both methods studied showed that the expired EpiPens contained less epinephrine compared to the non-expired EpiPens, there was still a surprisingly high amount of epinephrine in the expired EpiPens. Even EpiPens that were 5 to 7 years past expiration date still had more than 70% of the original dose remaining in the device. Many EpiPens that were 2 to 3 years past their expiration date had more than 90% of the original dose remaining."

There have been people who (apparently) died because they were told not to use an expired EpiPen. So people who freak out and tell you not to use an expired EpiPens might just kill you.

Source: http://allergies.about.com/od/anaphylaxis/a/Expired-Epipen.htm

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