The life-saving allergy treatment EpiPen may still be potent for up to four years after their printed expiration dates.
The manufacturer of EpiPen, Mylan, advises patients to replace the devices annually, according to Reuters.
However, a research team led by Lee Cantrell, a professor of medicine and pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego performed a study to gauge the potency of these injectors after this period since Cantrell was concerned that the surging prices for this treatment could make it difficult for families to purchase yearly replacements.=
Mylan came under fire last year for increasing the price of these injectors by nearly 450 percent over the course of 10 years.
Over the course of two weeks, patients at a community clinic in San Diego brought unused, expired EpiPens so they could be examined by the scientists.
The team evaluated 40 expired EpiPens and EpiPen juniors with the goal of testing the Epinephrine concentrations residing in these shots.
Results indicated that the injectors did lose their potency over time, but even 50 months past the expiration date the EpiPens retained 84 percent of their epinephrine concentrations—more than enough to effectively treat patients who enter anaphylactic shock.
The lowest level of epinephrine was 81 percent in an EpiPen Jr 30 months past its expiration date.
These findings support previous research finding that epinephrine auto-injectors have a much longer shelf-life than the labels said, wrote CNN.
Ultimately, Cantrell is calling on regulators and Mylan to reconsider the life span of these products.
“Our paper is not suggesting that people take expired medication,” Cantrell told CNN. We can’t make that leap based on our data. But what we can say is that if you have nothing else, and you’re having a life-threatening reaction, certainly use the expired epinephrine.”
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery