In the wake of the global Epipen shortage, pharmacies are being asked to extend the date on their existing stock by up to 4 months in a move that one pharmacist feels “undermines public confidence”.
Shamir Patel, Consultant Pharmacist at Doctor 4 U and a pharmacist with 20 years’ experience, was shocked to receive the request to extend the expiry date on Epipen supplies. He comments:
“This is only the second time in my career that I’ve ever seen a request from a manufacturer or distributor to extend the expiry date on medication. And for patients with severe allergies, whose lives could depend on their Epipen, this is quite worrying.”
“Simply extending the expiry date on medication undermines public confidence, both in the medication itself and in the expiry dates set in the first place. It’s little wonder there are so many concerned patients carrying around Epipens with fast approaching, or even passed expiry dates. We just hope the manufacturer gets the production delays resolved rapidly and puts an end to this crisis.”
In the meantime, Patel advises patients:
“The official advice is that you can now use your Epipen for 4 months past the official expiry date. This applies to the 0.3mg auto-injector only. But if you’re not sure whether this applies to yours, take it to a pharmacist and ask. If you have more specific concerns about your allergies, then go and see your GP. And particularly while EpiPens are in short supply, extra precautions are sensible. Consider asking work colleagues or, in the case of children, their school whether they would mind also avoiding certain key allergens until the issue is resolved.”