An EpiPen is the brand name of an auto-injectable device that delivers the drug epinephrine. It is a life-saving medication used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis.
EpiPen is just one of the brand names of devices known generically as Epinephrine Auto-Injectors. If you ever find yourself exposed to an allergy, having an EpiPen in your luggage or vehicle can save your life.
Nowadays, individuals deal with a wide range of allergies and illnesses, therefore it only makes sense to be aware of proper EpiPen disposal. Simply throwing away an EpiPen might cause harm to people or domestic animals.
How Can I Safely Dispose of Used and Expired Epipens?
This article covers the regulations surrounding the disposal of used EpiPens and why they are regarded as hazardous waste. Additionally, it provides safe disposal procedures for both used and expired EpiPens.
Since EpiPens contain needles, they have special disposal precautions. There are a few options when it comes to getting rid of an expired or used EpiPen:
1. Contact Your Doctor’s Office
You can dispose of an EpiPen with the assistance of the skilled medical personnel of your healthcare provider or any local hospital. They may quickly dispose of an expired or used auto-injector by throwing it away with other medical trash.
Medical waste is produced regularly in hospitals and clinics, so they have suitable procedures in place to dispose of it responsibly.
You just need to request that your used and expired EpiPens be disposed of with their hazardous medical waste.
2. Call Your Pharmacy and Ask If They Will Accept It
Many pharmacies now accept the disposal of medical equipment and outdated drugs. You can find out if a nearby drugstore provides such services by asking them. If so, you may provide your auto-injectors or any other clinical waste so they can dispose of it correctly and safely.
You can donate any unused or unwanted medications during collection drives and programs offered by some pharmacies and local authorities. Naturally, if it has expired, it will be disposed of immediately. You can, however, donate any usable medical supplies or medications that you no longer require to these collecting campaigns.
They are therefore given out to people who lack the money to purchase medical care for their families.
3. Contact Your Neighborhood Sanitation Department
You may learn about any hazardous waste collection programs through your community’s sanitation department. Medical trash is also collected as part of these campaigns and programs.
As a result, it will be simple for you to get rid of your EpiPen. Most sanitation authorities collaborate with hospitals to establish drop-off locations for such medically hazardous waste. If there is one nearby, all you have to do to dispose of your EpiPen is drive up to the drop-off location.
Reminder: If you find it difficult to get to the drop-off location, you may simply gather all of your EpiPens—say six months’ worth—in a safe box or bag. You can drive up to the collection location once the bag is full and drop off all of your used EpiPens at once.
You check our guide on How to Dispose of Sharp Containers to learn how to store them properly.
4. Consider Using Reverse Distribution Programs
Verify the presence of epinephrine salts in any unused EpiPens you may have. If so, the maker may receive them back.
Instead of you disposing of the EpiPen yourself, the manufacturer may simply handle the hazardous trash if they offer a reverse distribution scheme.
5. Give an Emergency Responder the EpiPen.
When you utilize the auto-injector, the precise dosage that was administered must be known to emergency workers or responders. They can use this information to decide if you might require an additional dosage.
It is better to give an emergency responder a used EpiPen if one is on the way and you have it in your possession. Responders to emergencies are trained to handle medical waste such as sharps. They usually get rid of it with the other medical trash after noting the dosage and duration.
6. Get in Touch with Your Local Health Department Agency
They may be able to direct you to the nearest medical waste drop-off site where you can safely dispose of your EpiPen. Take your expired EpiPen to your doctor or pharmacist. Even though they’re covered with safety caps, you still shouldn’t simply toss an expired EpiPen in with your regular household garbage.
If you’re going to get a new EpiPen, take your old one with you and give it to the pharmacist. They’ll know how to dispose of it. You can also give your expired EpiPen to your healthcare provider when they renew your prescription if you’re not planning on keeping it to use as a backup.
Other options for Epipen disposal
- Your local police or fire department may also offer disposal boxes that can be used by the public, so check with them to see if you can take in your device.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) offers a “National Prescription Drug Takeback Day” event twice a year. You could take in your expired device at the next scheduled event.
When To Get Rid Of An Epipen
To know if your EpiPen is still OK to use, you’ll first need to locate the expiration date on the medication. To do this, look at the actual auto-injector device or syringe. Each device is different, so depending on if you have an EpiPen or a different epinephrine product, you may need to look in a different place on the device itself for the expiration date.
You can also find the expiration date on the medication’s box. Sometimes the expiration date is printed on one of the small ends of the box. It may also be on the front or back panel in its own section of the box label. It’s usually close to the lot number.
If your EpiPen has expired, it is best to dispose of it. Our guide on How to Dispose of Expired Medication provides more information on the dangers of expired medication and other proper disposal methods.
Safety Precautions for Epipen Disposal
A used or expired EpiPen should not be tossed into the garbage as it can cause a needlestick injury to someone handling the bag. Needlestick injuries can potentially expose people to bloodborne diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.
Make sure the auto-injector is contained within its original protective casing. You should immediately put the epinephrine auto-injector back in its original case after usage. It is crucial to take this action since it will lessen the possibility of injuring someone else. The exposed needle from an auto-injector that is thrown away without its protective cover might cause injury to someone.
It’s best to store used or expired EpiPens in a sharps container until you can safely dispose of them. If one is not available, a sturdy, puncture-resistant container will do. State laws vary on sharps disposal, but you can generally dispose of them at your healthcare provider’s office, a nearby hospital, some pharmacies, and designated sharps disposal sites operated in some communities.
Ensure that you always have an adequate stock of EpiPens on hand. Check the expiration date, replace them if they are due to expire, and avoid exposing the autoinjector to extreme cold or heat.
Just like all medical waste, it is critical to ensure the safe and proper disposal of EpiPens to reduce the risk of injury, illness, and death. If you, a loved one, or a family member have been prescribed this device, be sure to follow the steps outlined here to reduce the chance of accidental exposure.
Why is Improper Epipen Disposal Dangerous?
Sharp needles are present in medical devices known as EpiPens, or auto-injectors for epinephrine. In an emergency, these pointed needles are intended to penetrate human skin.
These needles are obviously deadly if they end up in the wrong hands because they are designed to inject medication into the skin. Sanitation workers, family members, kids, and pets that play outside can all be harmed by sharp needles. Anyone could stumble upon a used EpiPen that has been thrown out with the trash. As a result, both interactions with outdated medication and damage from the needle are possible.
Another possibility is that if someone touches a used EpiPen, they can pick up illnesses from the previous user. In either case, if used or expired EpiPens are not disposed of correctly, they can be extremely dangerous. To prevent the spread of infections like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, you should handle used sharps, especially EpiPens, as toxic waste.
Being accountable for your own medical waste is crucial. Whether it’s an EpiPen or insulin injection, you should understand how to dispose of them securely and effectively.
When one considers the effects it has on the environment and local populations, this knowledge becomes essential.
Particularly when it comes to domestic usage, unneeded medications, outdated medical supplies, and used or expired injections should be handled with extreme caution.