Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting Rid of Expired EpiPens

by Kelley Lindberg

Have you checked your EpiPens lately to see if they’ve expired? It’s important to replace EpiPens promptly when they expire, so that the potency of the medicine isn’t compromised.

But now that you’ve replaced your EpiPens with new ones, what should you do with the expired ones? Those sharp needles and medication can be dangerous if they fall into unsuspecting hands, so it’s important to get rid of them safely.

The best way to dispose of expired or used EpiPens varies, depending on where you live. In general, there are a few options. You will probably need to call around to see what works best in your area. If one of the options you try charges a fee, try another option first. And in many cases, even if the place you call won’t take them, they can probably refer you to someplace that does, so ask.

Here are some places to try:
  • The pharmacy where you got the EpiPen.
  • Your allergist’s or doctor’s office.
  • The local hospital or urgent care facility.
  • A local medical lab.
  • The police or fire department. In Layton, Utah, the police department has a large white box near the north doors where you can deposit medications to be disposed of safely. Medication disposal is becoming a big enough problem these days that many police departments are starting to take a proactive role in helping dispose of medications safely.
  • Grocery stores or pharmacies sometimes host “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet” drives where they collect old meds. Call your local stores to see if they are planning this kind of drive anytime soon.
In all cases, try to put the EpiPen back in its original plastic case to prevent the needle from sticking you or anyone else.

If you’re out of options and can’t find someplace to dispose of the medication safely, you can put it in household garbage. But experts recommend that you drop the EpiPen in a plastic bottle (like a juice or soda bottle), tape the lid securely on, and label the bottle with a permanent marker saying “Sharps.” Then dispose of the EpiPen out of reach of children.

Here’s another helpful idea I got from a friend: before she throws away her expired EpiPens, she gets an orange and “practices” injecting the EpiPen into the orange. Of course, if you do this, be incredibly careful so that no one gets stuck, and throw the orange away immediately so that no one accidentally eats it!

If you know of someplace in your area that takes expired or used EpiPens, use the Comments to let us know about it!


Anonymous said...

I had all my bigger kids practice in oranges with the expired epi-pens. They have done the trainers a ton but I think doing the real thing would be helpful. They paid close attention because we had needed to use the epi-pen on our 3 yr. old a few days before.

Anonymous said...

My school nurse collects expired Epipens to use when training teachers at the beginning of each school year. They practice on an orange like the commenter above does with her kids. I've brought them to her for years and she's always very happy to get them, and I feel great that my kids' teachers have experience with them.