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Origin of the EpiPen®

I received this missive in October 2001 and thought it might be of interest---

The Epipen (originally called "ComboPen" while developing the design concept) was designed to supplement the company's AtroPen auto-injector. The Atropen (called AstroPen when used by NASA), could only be used with drugs that could be made stable while in contact with stainless steel, such as Atropine. (The company wanted a system that would deliver a larger volume of any drug, and had hoped to use a plastic container to avoid the risk of glass breakage. However the vapor transmission rates through plastics were too high, so we subsequently learned how to deal with glass.)

The design concept was essentially complete when the Pentagon approached the company looking anxiously for an auto-injection system to deliver 2-Pam Chloride (not stable in contact with stainless steel). This was the antidote to the new Soviet nerve agent supplied to Egypt which the Israelis captured during the Yom Kippur War. It seems to have been an extroadinary lucky coincidence.

Shel Kaplan (primary inventor - US Patent 4,031,893)


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