Malfunctioning EpiPens could harm patients, say companies

UNITED STATES (AP) – United States (US) regulators on Tuesday warned the public about malfunctions involving some EpiPens, the emergency injectors for severe allergic reactions.

The Food and Drug Administration issued the warning after drugmakers Pfizer and Mylan told medical providers that the problems could cause death or serious injuries.

Pfizer manufactures the injectors for Mylan, which sells them. When held against the thigh, they’re supposed to automatically inject the hormone epinephrine to stop runaway allergic reactions to insect stings and foods such as nuts and eggs.

The malfunctions can prevent or delay the devices from injecting the drug or cause them to eject it prematurely. Some users also may have trouble getting the EpiPen out of its carrier tube quickly because of a defect. The problems were found in both EpiPen and EpiPen Jr versions of the product and in their authorised generic versions. The companies told users to carry two of the devices with them at all times. People with severe allergies often keep one auto injector with them and others at home, school or work. The companies also are urging people who use the products to review the instructions and to contact Mylan Customer Relations for help or free replacements.

Mylan has taken heat from parents, doctors and Congress for repeatedly raising EpiPen’s list price from about USD60 for a pair in 2007 to USD600 per pair in 2016.

A pharmacist holds a package of EpiPens epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product, in Sacramento, California. PHOTO: AP