Local company developing EpiPen alternative that would last longer

Those who rely on lifesaving injectable epinephrine pens, known by the brand name EpiPens, know the expensive often go unused and expire. Now, a local company is developing an innovative injector that patients can hang on to longer that could also save them money.

Each year, Maria Downs buys six epinephrine injectable pens and watches six old ones expire.

"Peanuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, walnuts and then we add in hazelnuts last year," said Downs.

With a child severely allergic to nuts, her vast collection of out-of-date injectors represents the high price she pays for peace of mind.

"Because you'd rather spend the money then, you know, forget it somewhere and not have it and not be able to get it," said Downs.

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EpiPens may be lifesavers during severe allergic reactions, but ideally, they go unused. The problem is even unopened, they lose potency fast.

"It's about a year that you get. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. Usually, you hear about a year," said Christopher Stepanian, Windgap Medical.

Stepanian is the co-founder of Windgap Medical in Watertown. His company is working on a two-compartment epinephrine injector that could promise a longer shelf life because until it's actually readied for injection, the epinephrine remains in a powder form.

"By twisting the cap, the spring mixes the wet and dry together," said Stepanian. "Some initial testing on our own showed that the dry form of the powder was on the order of 100 times more temperature stable than that of a solution."

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The company won't know how that will translate into shelf life for the pocket-sized injector until testing is done in the actual container, but the idea of epinephrine which lasts longer sounds great to Maria Downs.

"That would be amazing. There wouldn't be all of this," she said.

Windgap hopes to bring its epinephrine injector to the market in the next few years pending FDA approval.