If you have been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector because you or a family member is at risk of anaphylaxis, you should carry two devices with you at all times to make sure you have quick access to this life-saving medication. It’s also important to know how to correctly dispose of an auto-injector.
Reasons for disposal may include:
- the device has been used to treat an allergic reaction
- the expiration date on the device has passed
- the device needs to be replaced due to exposure to extreme temperatures, discoloration, etc.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), automatic epinephrine injectors, regardless of type, are disposed of in the same manner as all other medical sharps. They should not be simply thrown in the trash can.
The FDA has information on their website about the safest way to get rid of sharps.
If your auto-injectors have expired, first make sure that you have new ones available before disposing of the expired ones.
If you think that you or someone you know could benefit from practicing how to use an auto-injector, then you can use the expired devices for training purposes. Inject into an orange to mimic the process for using epinephrine in an emergency situation.
Used or expired auto-injectors can be taken to a supervised collection site. These sites may include healthcare providers’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, health departments, medical waste facilities, and police or fire stations.
Read through FDA’s guidance on safe disposal to ensure you are informed about the disposal process. For example, your state or city may require you to place the used devices in an approved sharps container, or in a heavy-duty plastic household container (such as an empty laundry detergent bottle), prior to dropping off.
Keep in Mind
Sharps disposal guidelines vary depending on where you live, so call your local trash or public health department to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area. There may be drop-off sites or pick-up service in your area.
Next time you visit a healthcare professional or allergist, ask what they recommend for disposing of your used or expired epinephrine auto-injectors.
For more information about proper disposal methods for sharps, visit www.safeneedledisposal.org or call at (800) 643-1643.