Health Canada and the drug manufacturer Pfizer are warning that a “very small number” of EpiPens might have defective packaging — making them difficult to remove from their cases in an emergency.
The EpiPen auto-injector is used in cases of severe allergic reaction to deliver an emergency dose of adrenaline. Failure to administer the drug as soon as possible can result in patient disability or death, according to Health Canada.
The problem is with the tube that holds the auto-injector device. In an estimated two out of every one million devices, the rim of the outer plastic tube may be deformed, making it harder to slide the device out of the tube, Pfizer said.
The tube — not the device or the drug itself — is what might be defective, the drug manufacturer added.
The problem affects the EpiPen (0.3 milligrams) and EpiPen Jr. (0.15 milligrams) devices with an expiry date of September 2020 or earlier.
Health Canada is urging people who carry EpiPens to check their device to make sure it slides easily out of its tube.
Here’s how to check your EpiPen:
- Flip open the carrier tube cap
- Gently turn the tube upside down
- Let the device slide into your hand, without shaking it or dropping it
- Check the tube to make sure that the rim is not deformed
- Do not remove the blue safety release from the auto-injector. It should be left on until the device is going to be used.
- If everything seems fine, put the device back in the tube and close the tube.
Health Canada recommends that you check every new EpiPen you get to make sure it slides out easily.
If you find a defective EpiPen or the device won’t slide out of its tube, you should return it to your pharmacist for a replacement, according to Health Canada.
This isn’t the first time Pfizer has issued a warning about EpiPen packaging. In October 2018, an improperly applied label also made it difficult to remove the EpiPen from its protective case.