Epi Pen Expiration Dates Rules

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 3:29am
deegann's picture
Joined: 07/27/2003 - 09:00

Is there a rule/law/written decree somewhere that says an epi pen needs to be "good" for one year from the time it is dispensed to the patient? Is there a minimum time length that an epi must be good, ie if it expires in a month, can they still sell it to me?

Here's my complaint. I have Health Net insurance and since the last time I had my son's epi filled I was able to get it from my local pharmacy, and the expiration date was a year out. Now, HealthNet requires that I have it filled by a pharmacy in Florida (I'm in California) called CuraScript. I can only get one every two weeks, so I have to "reorder" every two weeks until I have the 4 that my doctor prescribed. I received the first one yesterday and it expires in 6 months. I called, and they said that's what they are getting from their distributor, and so that's what I get. This effectively doubles my annual cost for epipens, because I'll have to do this again in six months. Of course it's not about the money, it's the principle. I feel like they are pushing their old products so that they don't have to throw them out. What's to keep them from sending me something that expires a month from now?

Because the pharmacy is in Florida, but the west coast distributor for Curascript is in Northern California, I can't have them check on the epi pen expiration dates when I order, I have to wait until it gets to my door.

I guess I'm most annoyed with HealthNet's new policy for injectable medication, and that I can't walk into my pharmacy and get personal service, and that I can't make sure I'm getting the furthest expiration date.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 4:47am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

deegann, wow, I can see why you're upset! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img]
If you look at Kate B's thread re expiration dates under Living with PA and there was another one under Main Discussion a couple of months ago, because in Canada, we actually experienced a shortage, if you will, of Epi-pens. Some pharmacies were completely out and the back-order was a couple of months from Dey.
I'm allowed to get one Epi-pen a month under my current drug coverage in Ontario, Canada.
I also have to get a special form filled out by the doctor.
When I first moved to this town and needed Epi-pens refilled, I automatically used the pharmacy that was closest to me and the one that we had been using since we moved here (didn't know any better). The first lot of Epi-pens I got, I remember them only having a six month away expiration date, and it was like, holy moly. Not only do I have to go back to the doctor to get another 'script, but yes, six months from now, rather than a lengthier time from now, I need more Epi-pens.
What I suspect happened with this pharmacy is that they actually closed their downtown store (it's a chain of three stores in the town I live in, I was going to the downtown store) a few months after I got the Epi-pens filled there. They probably knew that the store was going to be closed and didn't bother getting up-dated stock in, especially of something that may not be a big seller in our town.
When I think about it even now it ticks me off because there is a Shoppers Drug Mart right down the street from where that pharmacy was and I could just as easily have walked my 'script down the street, which is not something you can do. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
Now, I get all of my prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy (different than the downtown one obviously) because I really like the owners (a husband and wife team) and I get excellent service from them for all of our health needs. So, again, I don't shop around for the best price or anything for Epi-pens. The expiry date I'm getting from them right now for Epi-pens is 16 months away. I consider that pretty good.
Is there no way you can write to your insurer and say, hey, this is not okay and it's actually costing you a heckuva lot more money (depending on how much of the Epi-pen price they pay)?
I'd be ticked right off if I was TOLD where I had to buy a prescription from if I was getting crappy expiry dates like that. As I said, it's happened to me once (the 6 month away one). It was a really big inconvenience, but the thing of it was, it was my mistake for not shopping around (which I was able to do, just didn't know any better).
Maybe you could post to see if there are other members here covered by the same insurer who have now been placed in the same position?
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 6:01am
samirosenjacken's picture
Joined: 09/30/2002 - 09:00

Epi pens have a shelf life of 18months.. If the pharmacy just stocks them, then you get what they have. My pharmacy orders them for me when I supply my RX so I get the longest date they can get me.
I get an RX for 4 pens at one time.. for each child.. 2 of the 2 pen trainers at once. That helps with the cost of the RX. If your insurance will let you do it, talk with your doctor about it.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 7:30am
deegann's picture
Joined: 07/27/2003 - 09:00

Alt to Main.--I have begun a complaint regarding the choice (or lack of)pharmacy issue and the delay in the refill due to shipping time, that was before the 6 month epi-pen came along. I will definately be addressing the latter issue with them and all issues with the California Insurance Commission.
samirosenjacken--Our prescription was for 4 epi's, but it's the insurance company that won't let us get them all at once, we have to get one at a time. It's very frustrating!
Anyhow, I'm still wondering if there's some law that says I'm entitled to an epi-pen with more than a 6 month expiration date.
[This message has been edited by deegann (edited April 28, 2004).]

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 12:25pm
PeteFerraro's picture
Joined: 07/10/2001 - 09:00

We check expiration dates of pens before we pay for them. If the expiration date isn't something reasonable (10+ months), we ask for a replacement. If the pharmacy complains, we walk down the street to the next pharmacy.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 1:11pm
deegann's picture
Joined: 07/27/2003 - 09:00

That's what I did when I was able to go into the pharmacy. Now, becasue of a crazy policy by our health insurance company, I have to order them from a company in Florida, and their closest distribution center is near San Francisco, 800 miles away from us! I guess I could wait for the Fed Ex guy, and not accept delivery until I check the expiration date.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 1:31pm
Driving Me Nutty's picture
Joined: 05/01/2003 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by samirosenjacken:
[b]Epi pens have a shelf life of 18months..
Thanks for clarifying. I just got 4 new ones and they expire Aug-05...I couldn't figure it out since I had thought they expired in 12 months.
Deegann, I feel for you. How frustrating. Luckily I can still go to a pharmacy so I just call ahead to find out the expiration date (thanks to advice I read on the boards here).

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 2:25pm
KateB's picture
Joined: 05/11/2004 - 09:00

I re-raised the thread about epipen expiry dates on Living with Peanut Allergy. It may help answer some of your questions.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2004 - 11:48pm
Mir's picture
Joined: 02/12/2001 - 09:00

I am personally completely baffled by the whole supply issue with EpiPens. I clearly remember the whole discussion of there being a "shortage" of pens, yet when I recently went to pick up new pens for DS I went to 3 (yes, THREE) different pharmacies searching for pens that were good for longer than 6 months. NO pharmacy in my area had anything any newer. And my preferred pharmacy--where the pharmacist was actually sympathetic and took the time to talk about it with me--explained that they can send them back and ask for "fresher" ones, but 9 times out of 10 they'll get the same batch back! That's crazy!
I wish Dey would take some responsibility on this issue, and better control the issue of old stock being distributed. But I'm sure that would interfere with their almighty profit....

Posted on: Thu, 04/29/2004 - 12:28am
Sandra Y's picture
Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

Here is something that might help if you have to accept a pen that expires too soon.
According to my pharmacist at Osco, if my pen expires before I use it, and the prescription is still good, I can get the pen replaced for free by the pharmacy.
I realize this sounds crazy, and I didn't really believe it when she explained it to me. It didn't make sense to me, since my epis ALL expire before they're used (I've never needed to use one).
After puzzling over this idea of replacement epipens, I also read someone else on this board posting the same thing, so I guess it is something that other pharmacies do, also.
Check with your pharmacist. I guess the deal is that a prescription is supposed to be good for the year, and if the medicine expires before the prescription does, they will make up the difference.

Posted on: Thu, 04/29/2004 - 5:53am
ABreitner's picture
Joined: 07/02/2002 - 09:00

Here is another thing to think about, how are the Epi-pens transported? Are they subjected to heat or cold? At one point I considered getting my Epi-pen through mail order to get a better price since my insurance says I can only get 1 a year filled with a $30 co-pay. After asking about how they are protected during shipping (they weren't) I decided to stick with my local pharmacy.


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