EpiPen expiry and replacement
Like most medication, EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® Auto‑Injector have an expiration date, which is printed on the side of the auto‑injector.
The expiration date is expressed as the month and the last 2 digits of the year and is located on the side of the device under the batch number. The actual expiry date can be taken as the last day of the month indicated - therefore an expiration date of “Exp: MAR18” indicates that the EpiPen® expires the last day (31st) of March 2018.
Because the effectiveness of the epinephrine in the EpiPens may decrease after the expiration date, you should promptly refill your prescription before the expiration date.
The expiry date on adrenaline autoinjectors is normally around 1-2 years from date of manufacture. The expiry date on the side of the device needs to be marked on a calendar and the device must be replaced prior to this date. EpiClub provides a expiry reminder service based on batch numbers which is very handy - particularly when EpiPens are stored in school and other environments.
Adrenaline autoinjectors with discoloured adrenaline or expired adrenaline autoinjectors are not as effective when used for treating anaphylaxis and should therefore not be relied upon to treat anaphylaxis. However, a recently expired adrenaline autoinjector should be used in preference to not using one at all.
How long should I get on my EpiPen?
In Australia, EpiPens are imported from overseas and once they reach their respective Australian distributors, they are purchased by wholesalers who then sell on to pharmacies where we, as the consumers, are able to purchase them.
This means that the period of time until expiry can vary greatly if the EpiPen® stock levels are not turned over regularly. If there is a delay in sale of the adrenaline autoinjector at pharmacy level, the in-date shelf life of these devices continues to decrease before they reach the individual at risk of anaphylaxis.
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) suggests that you visit your pharmacy early in the month your device is due to expire. Alert your pharmacist to the fact you will be renewing your script and want devices with at least 12 months before expiry. Those with shorter expiry periods can still be used, you will just have to renew your script and re-purchase new EpiPens sooner.
The Australian Government does subsidise the replacement of expired or used adrenaline autoinjectors, under the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) as per usual prescribing conditions, making the current price $38.80 (as of June 2017). You are entitled to a new prescription as soon as your current adrenaline autoinjectors either expire or are used, or changes in weight move a child from an EpiPen Jr® to a standard EpiPen®. The prescribing doctor is able to assess the situation to see when this is necessary. Once you obtain a valid prescription you will be able to purchase the allocated adrenaline autoinjectors from your pharmacy at the usual PBS subsidised price.
Additional EpiPens, above the PBS funded limit, are available for purchase however the full purchase price will apply.
EpiPen trainers do not contain a needle or medication and therefore do not expire.
In the past there have been recalls on EpiPens with particular batch numbers or expiry dates. These will be announced by the manufacturer and then advised by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, news outlets and other organisations such as My Allergy Aid via websites, social media and newsletters.