When to Replace an Epi-Pen (Epinephrine) Auto-Injector


If you are anaphylactic with bee stings, food or other allergens (such as latex), you likely own at least one EpiPen. An EpiPen is an adrenaline (epinephrine) shot administered at the onset of anaphylacitc shock or severe allergic reaction. Seconds count. Should the need arise to use the epinephrine, you will count on it to buy you crucial time and, possibly, to save your life. Anaphylaxis is serious and the stakes in receiving prompt and appropriate treatment are high. Consequently, it is of vital importance to periodically check that your EpiPen is in perfect working order. To determine whether your EpiPen is ready to be used in an emergency or whether it’s time for it to be replaced, ask yourself the following:

What is the condition of the tip and outer plastic?

The tip should be smooth, unbroken, black plastic. If the needle is exposed, even a little bit, the EpiPen may have been previously used, or it may have somehow been triggered. An EpiPen can only be used, effectively, once. A compromised tip or protruding needle may indicate a) That some (or all) of the epinephrine has probably been expelled from the injector, b) That the needle’s ejection function will not function if it is used again or , c) That the needle has been contaminated by being exposed to an environment outside of the injector’s protective cover.

The outer plastic of the injector should not be cracked, wet or splintered at any point.

IIf the outer plastic or the top of the EpiPen has been compromised or if the needle is exposed, it must be replaced.

What is the expiry date?

The box the EpiPen comes in has a dark brown or black rectangle on one side flap. It will show the expiry date with month and year. The EpiPen injector itself also has a small black box near it’s tip with the same information.
Most EpiPens have a shelf life of approximately twenty months, however, pharmacies may issue them after they have been on the shelves for extended periods. Never assume that because your EpiPen was dispensed to you recently that it will not expire in a relatively short period of time.

If the EpiPen is expired, it must be replaced.

What is the condition of the solution inside the EpiPen (the epinephrine)?

The injector has a clear window on the side through which you can view the solution (epinephrine) that is inside. Note, that If the window is showing any redness, there is no solution in the injector. The solution that is visible in the window should always be clear. It should never be tinged yellow, opaque, brown or have any kind of particle matter floating in it.

If the solution/epinephrine in your EpiPen is no longer visible or if it is not completely clear, it must be replaced.

If you find that your EpiPen (Epinephrine Auto Injector) needs replacing, immediately make arrangements to have your prescription renewed or refilled with your health care professional or pharmacist.