So many people need to know what to do with old epipens and It’s a common yet very important question.
Epipens are an important instrument in preventing life-threatening allergic reactions.
The need for epinephrine often comes with the diagnosis of a serious allergy to insect bites and stings, foods, penicillin and other antibiotic medications.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 50 million people in the United States suffer various allergies every year. With this, you can imagine the number of Epipens that are not discarded appropriately.
An epinephrine auto-injector is a lifesaving device that delivers an accurate and immediate dose of adrenaline to a person suffering from anaphylactic shock.
This is why an EpiPen is a must-have for anyone who experiences serious allergic reactions.
Each epinephrine auto-injector comes with two separate chambers for two separate injections.
At the point of injection, the device makes sure that only one dose is given.
Now epipens are essentially medical devices and like any other medical device, they are made to last only a specific amount of time.
The problem is usually how to dispose of these medical items in a safe manner or what to do with them once they’re used up.
The dangers of improper Epipen disposal
In the United States, there is an expiration date on each and every auto-injector.
Usually, the expiration date is one year from the day it was purchased.
But even after a year, it is not advisable to dispose of these medical devices in the trash.
There are potentially thousands of auto-injectors out there and each one should be disposed of in a safe manner.
Medical waste companies usually offer specialized bags for medical devices to send these items to the proper place for disposal.
Typically, epipens contain a cartridge filled with epinephrine as well as a spring-loaded needle that is pressurized to the point of injection.
Even after the recommended expiration date, these devices may still contain medicines that are hazardous to human health and the environment.
Therefore, you should not just toss your epipen in the trash can and forget about it.
Moreover, medical devices that are designed to cut through the skin or rupture it are typically referred to as sharps.
These sharps can pose a threat to animals and humans if they are not disposed of properly.
Epipens fall in this category.
They’re considered hazardous waste that can spread a number of blood borne diseases including Hepatitis and HIV.
For that reason, precautions need to be taken in the proper disposal of epipens.
You should not just walk off with trash bags, place your bag in the container and hope that the medical devices will be disposed of appropriately.
You must seek specialized medical waste disposal service providers who can actually dispose of the hazardous medical waste in an environmentally safe manner.
Otherwise, other people like your family members, janitor or the housekeeper might get stuck with the used needle while taking out the trash.
It’s a major risk that you don’t need to take.
Laws and regulations governing epipens are also very important to consider.
These laws control the disposal of medical devices and waste in general.
If you are disposing of sharps like epipens, then you must follow all the relevant state and federal regulations.
Doing so is really important because it will protect the community from potential harm by ensuring that these medical devices are disposed of properly before they end up in a landfill or incinerator.
5 Safe Ways to do with old epipens
So what exactly is the best way to dispose of old epipens?
Below are the most ideal steps you can take in order to get rid of expired, used or broken epipens safely:
Take old epipens to a designated sharps disposal drop-off site
Many communities and companies in the U.S provide medical waste disposal service.
Often, these medical waste disposal companies collect used epipens and send it to a designated site for proper disposal.
To find out if your community or workplace offers sharps disposal service, look up the appropriate government agency.
These government agencies employ experts who know about the best and safe ways to dispose of medical waste.
In that case, look for a designated drop-off site in your area.
This includes hospitals, clinics and other medical institutions.
You can also check on the Internet or contact your local health department to see if they provide these services.
Collect all your old epipens, and then call these local medical establishments right away.
Some places may have the program and the others just do not.
That’s why it is important to take all your used epipens at once to one of these designated sites when you move into a new location.
Take used epipens to a nearby hospital
If you are worried about the health and safety of your pet, then you should take used epipens to a nearby hospital.
Just like humans, pets can get injury from broken needles and other sharp objects.
That is why at some hospitals in the U.S, they have this program where they will accept used epipens from any person.
If traveling outside the country, your local embassy or consulate will give you a similar place where you can bring these medical devices for disposal.
When you take old epipens to the local hospital for disposal, you should at least collect them in a puncture-proof container.
Purchase a new container for this purpose and use it exclusively for old and used epipens.
Make sure the container is sealed well enough so that no one can get hurt from the used needles inside.
Also, label the container with a large red biohazard sign to warn people about the hazard inside.
All hospitals are equipped with the means to dispose of these medical devices.
Most of these places have a designated area in the back or near the emergency room that is used for disposing off old and used sharps.
Take them to the healthcare provider who prescribed the Epipen
If you have obtained a special prescription for your used epipens from your doctor, then you should take these devices to him or her.
Just like the hospital, your doctor has a container for sharps disposal.
These containers are particularly designed to store used sharps in a safe manner until they can be disposed of carefully at the designated site.
The doctor’s office is usually the best place to dispose of your old epipens because it is where you got the consultation and prescription for the first time.
Any medical staff or healthcare provider should have access to the facility for dispensing and disposing of medical wastes.
If you cannot find a nearby healthcare provider then you can also look for sharps disposal facilities online.
Check with the local police or fire department
Your local fire department or police might have disposal boxes for medical wastes.
If you don’t know how to contact the local police and fire department, then contact your local emergency management office.
They will provide you with the names of local police and fire departments that offer this service.
In case they have sharps disposal boxes that can be used by members of the public, take in your old or used epipens.
Individuals have an obligation to protect their communities from any potential danger they might face by using the best and most effective means to dispose of their old or used epipens.
If you are a medical practitioner, then it is your duty to provide your patients with the right information on how to discard their medical waste properly.
Otherwise, they can be fined if they fail to dispose of their sharps correctly and end up harming others.
Call your local pharmacy
The local pharmacy is also one of those places that offer sharps disposal service.
Most of these pharmacies will accept used epipens and dispose of them safely.
It is best to contact your local pharmacy and ask them if they accept old epipens.
If they do, then you can drop them off at their pharmacy.
The pharmacist there will store your old or used epipens in a secure manner until they can be taken to a designated medical waste disposal service (such as a hospital).
This method is particularly effective if you have just moved into a new location and have just collected a complete set of old epipens.
As an allergy sufferer, you probably know the importance of keeping your Epipen in good working condition.
The first rule of thumb is to always check the expiration date on the back of your Epipen.
This ensures that you are using the right dosage and dosage strength at all times.
Even more important, always store your Epipen properly.
Never leave it under extreme conditions as this could cause the liquid inside to leak or even dry up.
Also, keep it in a place that is easy for you to reach and get to in case of an emergency.
Lastly, discard your Epipen properly.
Most people simply throw it in their trashcan, but this is not a good idea.
Instead, you should always get rid of your Epipen the right way by taking it to a nearby medical waste disposal facility such as a hospital.
Doing so ensures that others are not potentially exposed to any contaminants or diseases from your old or used Epipens.
Do Epipens actually expire?
Yes, all medical devices have an expiration date.
This is usually found on the product label.
You should only use Epipens that are within the expiration period specified on the label.
How many Epipens should i carry?
If you suffer from pollen allergies, then you should carry two Epipens with you at all times.
In case one fails, you need to react quickly with a backup.
Anaphylaxis is a serious medical condition that affects many people in the US; this is why it is important to always have a backup Epipen when you are outdoors.
Why do people carry two Epipens?
If you carry two Epipens, then one will always be in working condition and the other will always be in reserve.
If your first Epipen fails, you can still use the second one to treat your symptoms.
You don’t want to expose yourself to a potential anaphylactic shock, so if you carry two Epipens, then you have a backup in the event the first one fails.