How do you dispose of an EpiPen

How to dispose of an expired or used EpiPen - Allergies - 2021

It is common for people with a food allergy to carry an EpiPen device with them as this is the one that you will not leave if you have severe allergies. Carrying an EpiPen or one around it is a precaution that can save your life if you are accidentally exposed to an allergen.

In fact, you likely have more than one epinephrine auto-injector - you might have one or two in your car and one in a bag that you carry and one or two at home.

However, many people do not know how to dispose of used or expired EpiPens once they have finished using the medical devices.

You can't just throw an EpiPen or any other auto-injector in the trash as it is considered hazardous medical waste. EpiPens must be disposed of properly. Read on to learn why this is and how you can take care of it.

Why is improper disposal so dangerous?

EpiPens, officially known as "Epinephrine Auto-Injectors", are needles ("Sharps") that can penetrate human skin. This sharp point is necessary so that the user - who is by definition someone who needs adrenaline in an emergency - can use the device to inject the drug immediately and then the drug can work immediately.

Because of this, these "sharp objects" pose a threat to unsuspecting family members and the workers who are emptying the garbage. It is possible to get injured by a sharp object that is carelessly tossed in the trash. It is also possible for someone whose skin is pierced by a used sharp object to suffer an infectious disease carried by the person who originally used the sharp object.

When unused medications are thrown in the trash, it usually means they land in a landfill. When drugs end up in landfills, it can end up in our groundwater, which can create health problems for the surrounding communities.

Disposal of expired or used auto-injectors

If you can't throw away your EpiPen, what can you do with it?

First, make sure that the device is in the protective case. Once you've used the auto-injector, put it back in its case immediately to reduce the risk of another user pricking themselves with the exposed needle.

There are several options for safely disposing of medicines and medical sharp objects, including expired adrenaline auto-injectors. These include:

  • The medical staff at your doctor's office or at a nearby hospital can safely dispose of expired or used auto-injectors with their other medical waste. Ask if you can include sharp objects in your hazardous medical waste.
  • Some pharmacies now accept expired drugs for disposal. Ask your pharmacy if auto-injectors are needed or if they participate in medical waste propulsion. In some pharmacies there are events once or twice a year where you can hand in medicines that have expired or are otherwise unwanted and unused.
  • Some cities or counties have household collection programs that include medical waste. Contact your local hygiene department or hospital to find out if a drop-off point is available in your area.

The regulations governing the disposal of medical items and expired medicines vary from state to state. Visit the website of the Federal Environment Agency and click on your state.

A word from DipHealth

Adrenaline is a very delicate drug. It deteriorates quickly and can easily lose its effectiveness if left in a hot car or if it gets too cold. This is easy to check: if the liquid in your auto-injector is cloudy, you need a new EpiPen.

Epinephrine auto-injectors are rated for one year, as long as a typical prescription. Unfortunately, pharmacies often have stocks of auto-injectors waiting to be dispensed and are now nearing their expiration date. Sometimes pharmacies hand out pens that are less than fresh.

Hence, you should always check the expiration date of your auto-injector the first time you get a prescription. If the device will expire in less than a year, ask the pharmacist for a fresher one. You'll need to check the expiration date on the actual injector to make sure it will last for as long as your prescription is good.

Also, make sure that the expiration date of your automatic injector is noted on your calendar to remind you that you are about to get a refill. If you haven't done so, now is the time to check your auto-injector to make sure it hasn't expired and the liquid inside is still clear.