Allergies and Epinephrine Auto-injectors:  When to renew?

Allergies and Epinephrine Auto-injectors:  When to renew?

Allergies: symptoms, treatment and sublingual immunotherapy - 25 March 2015

Getting into the habit of changing on your birthday may prevent bad surprises…

Auto-injectors such as Epipen®, Allerject®, Twinject® can be prescribed for food allergy, vespid allergy or sometimes in the context of sublingual immunotherapy.  Auto-injectors are issued with an expiry date beyond which their efficacy can decrease considerably.  Therefore, how should one remember to regularly check the expiry date and renew the auto-injector as needed?

Change your auto-injector on your birthday!

Somewhat like for batteries in smoke alarms which people gradually have come to change with the time change of spring and fall, AVANT GARDE Medical™ has, for a few years now, been recommending to its patients to try as much as possible to synchronize the change of their epinephrine auto-injector with their birth date.

There are 2 advantages for allergic patients:

  1. Easier to remember when to change.  Can even be coordinated with the pharmacy.
  2. Best way to obtain a recent auto-injector, one with full duration (instead of a unit that might have stayed on the pharmacy’s shelf for a few weeks).

What to do with an expired auto-injector?

First of all, an expired auto-injector should be viewed as a victory!  Indeed it means that the allergic person (or his/her family – please read here mostly mom!) has presented the necessary discipline and also been lucky enough to manage through daily life without being confronted with an anaphylactic crisis.  Kudos!

But now, this auto-injector, which costs approximately $100, should not be disposed of before all its usefulness has been used!

  1. It can serve as an additional unit for one to three months.

Nothing should replace a fully functional auto-injector.  One should always have two on hand.  This being said, one can choose to keep the recently expired unit as a supplement to others just in case.  One should expect more limited efficacy for that last unit and identify it as such.

  1. Training with a real unit.

One should use this expired unit in order to get more familiar with the feeling of its trigger mechanism.  It is easy for the patient or a family member to use it on an orange or grapefruit.  Please dispose of it securely.  Your pharmacist can help in this regard.

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