Spring has sprung and allergy season is upon the United States, but for those who suffer the most severely from allergic reactions, whether from seasonal factors like bees or from food allergies, there's extra need to take care this week. Some EpiPen autoinjectors have reportedly not quite been autoinjecting as they're supposed to, prompting the parent company to voluntarily initiate a far-reaching product recall. The nationwide EpiPen recall could affect any of the 3.6 million Americans who are prescribed the drug annually, and if you're one of them, you need to make sure your life-saving device is fully functional.
EpiPens work by shooting a needle full of adrenaline into your body, which can save your life in the case of an allergic reaction. One of the most common symptoms of anaphylaxis is respiratory failure, and an EpiPen can keep you breathing long enough to reach emergency medical care. The cause of the recall is faulty injectors that don't properly deploy the needle, preventing people from receiving that life-saving dosage. If you're an EpiPen user, you need to make sure yours aren't affected, since it can literally be a matter of life or death.
A dozen lot numbers of EpiPens, including the specially formulated half doses known as EpiPen Jr., are included in the recall. The easiest way to check if your product is included is by first checking the expiration date — if your devices expire in April, May, October, or November 2017, check the lot number against this chart.
Mylan did not provide any information about how the recall came to their attention, or whether there have been any injuries or fatalities as a result of the product failures. “While the number of reported failures is small, EpiPen products that potentially contain a defective part are being recalled because of the potential for life-threatening risk if a severe allergic reaction goes untreated,” Mylan said in a statement to media outlets. The products affected would have been distributed to consumers between Dec. 17, 2015, and July 1, 2016.
Mylan is already suffering from bad PR after the company introduced a 600 percent price hike for the life saving device last year, an increase the CEO argued was "fair." The company also issued a separate recall just two weeks ago, though it was only for devices in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and a few European countries, not the United States.
If you've checked your EpiPen and it's part of the recall, you can call 877-650-3494 or email customer.servicemylan.com, and Mylan will replace your product for free. Even if you're not an EpiPen user, encourage everyone you know to check theirs and/or their loved ones' — it could save their life.