I am a mom with a 13 year old boy, who has had severe peanut/nut allergies since he was 2 years. We live in the desert where temperatures are easily over 100 degrees for several months, and take great care to maintain the epinephrine (we have both the Epipen and Auvi-Q) at the recommended temperatures (66-77 degrees). In error our allergist sent the prescription refill to our mail order pharmacy and I was shocked to find my refill stuffed into a hot mail box when it is at the hottest right now. We normally purchase though local pharmacy to avoid them sitting in a hot mail truck and then our mailbox. I'm curious how others handle this, and in maintaining safe them safely? Also does anyone know if the exposer to the heat or the cold lessens the effectiveness of the medicine or makes the medicine 'spoiled'. We keep old Epipens in our hot garage to train school staff, and in all the years I have yet to see one change color. Concerned that huge mail order pharmacy would think it is ok to charge me and send me medicine that I feel is not usable. Thoughts welcomed. Thank you.
By PeanutAllergy.com on Sep 3, 2015
Question of the Week: Answered!Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.Our Answer:
Thank you for reaching out to our community with your concern.
Epinephrine auto-injectors are a vital part of the peanut allergy lifestyle. It’s very important to have one close to you at all times. If you cannot access the EpiPen while having an anaphylactic reaction, you will be unable to administer proper treatment - you can read more about treating anaphylaxis here. That being said, many people are not aware that the EpiPen does require maintenance to ensure it functions properly.
EpiPens must be kept within certain temperatures and certain dates to guarantee effectiveness. If an injector is expired, damaged, or exposed to extreme temperatures, it is not recommended for use and you should seek a replacement immediately. You can read more about further ensuring effectiveness of your epinephrine injector here.
Keeping your EpiPen the proper temperature can be difficult, as this community post discusses. To ensure that your EpiPen is not exposed to the varying climate changes and hazards of the outdoors, it is essential to keep it stored somewhere that will stay close to room temperature. According to the EpiPen website, the ideal range is between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius. There are insulated bags and wallets available online which will keep items cool even while outdoors. It also may be helpful to look for temperature-controlled bags that are meant to store insulin, which also needs to be kept at room temperature.
Although using an insulated, temperature-controlled bag for your epinephrine would be ideal, another solution is to place the injector near items which will keep it cooled down, such as a refrigerated ice pack or bottle. It is important that the EpiPen not be in direct contact with these items, though, to ensure that the EpiPen stays within the proper range. It is important to also use a bag or container that will not be contaminated by sand or other elements.
In this case, we advise that you not rely on your overheated EpiPens. Although they may not be completely spoiled, there is a good chance that they are less effective after this exposure to heat, and it is simply not worth the risk.
We reached out to our Facebook community for their insight, and they had some great tips that you can read here.
We hope you have found this information useful! Take care.