Can EpiPens Still Work After Freezing?

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Your EpiPen will still work after being frozen, researchers report.

The epinephrine auto-injector can be lifesaving in cases of severe allergic reaction, and millions of Americans carry the devices.

In this study, researchers "took 104 same-lot pairs of [EpiPens] and froze one of each pair for 24 hours, while the other was kept at recommended temperatures as a 'control,' " said study co-author Dr. Julie Brown. She specializes in pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"Once the frozen devices were thawed, they and their controls were injected into meat. The meat and devices were weighed both before and after firing," Brown said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

"The change in meat weight and device weight was similar between frozen-thawed devices and their controls, indicating that freezing did not affect how the [auto-injectors] functioned once they were thawed," Brown explained.

The study was to be presented Friday at the ACAAI annual meeting, in Seattle. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Anne Ellis, chair of the ACAAI anaphylaxis committee, said, "It's important for those who have severe, life-threatening reactions to their allergies to have confidence in the [EpiPens] they carry and know they'll work in an emergency. This study showed that even when an [EpiPen] has been unintentionally frozen, the risk is low that it will malfunction."

But, "the study did not examine the amount of epinephrine remaining in the solution after it had been frozen," Ellis noted. "We know epinephrine is a somewhat unstable compound, and that's why the shelf life of [EpiPens] is so short."

While an auto-injector will work after being frozen and thawed, it's a good idea to talk with your allergist about a prescription for a new device if yours does freeze, the researchers added.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on epinephrine injection.

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, news release, Nov. 16, 2018

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