How to Get an EpiPen

Written by john zaremba
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EpiPen is the trademarked name for a device used to inject epinephrine quickly and efficiently in people suffering from anaphylactic shock, or a severe, fast-moving and potentially fatal allergic reaction. EpiPens require a doctor's prescription in the United States and United Kingdom, but they can be purchased without prescription in Canada.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    Obtaining an EpiPen

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    Assess your need. People who have had histories of allergies or asthma, or people who have had severe allergic reactions may be at risk for anaphylactic shock. The reaction can be brought on by certain foods, medicines, latex, insect venom or even exercise. (This is called idiopathic anaphylaxis, and its causes are not fully understood.)

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    Visit your doctor. If you are worried that you or someone else (your child, for example) is at risk of anaphylactic shock, visit your doctor and see if a prescription is appropriate. Even if you live in Canada, where EpiPen is available without a prescription, it is important to assess your allergy needs with a doctor. (Also, a prescription may be required for a reimbursement from your insurance carrier.)

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    Have the prescription filled. Or, if you live in Canada and you and your doctor determine that it would be wise for you to carry an EpiPen, you should be able to purchase one at a nearby pharmacy. They are kept behind the counter. If the injector is for a child, you may wish to choose EpiPen Jr.

Tips and warnings

  • It is important to know how to use the pen correctly, safely and effectively. The packaging should contain instructions and a training pen.
  • It is also important to discard and replace injectors that have expired. An expired injector (or one that has been damaged by water, for example) is compromised and should be replaced.
  • As with all medications, EpiPen should be used only as directed.

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