Thursday, April 06, 2006

Expired Medication

Is it a ploy created by the big pharmaceutical companies to scare consumers into buying more medication when the bottle expires? Are medicines safe to use beyond thier printed 'use by' date? Some say yes. I recently recieved email from a friend stating that many medications can be used long after the expiration date if kept cool. He may be right but there is some controversy about this topic. Below is my response to my friends email.


I would be concerned about using prescribed medication after the expiration date. An article on Associated Content says that the expiration dates on pharmaceuticals are based on the medicines ability to be effective. Exposure to various environmental conditions such as light as well as temperature can be variable factors on shelf life. However controversial this topic is, I don't think it is a ploy by the pharmaceutical companies to sell more product. Many disposal programs for drug stores include a credit for returned expired drugs. Below is an excerpt from the article that I found.

"No one knows for sure if expired medications are safe. A consumer-oriented version of the Pentagon shelf-life program - which would check the actual life span of prescription drugs stored in bathrooms, kitchens, purses and cars - has never been done. "Currently, I am not aware of any programs that focus on drug stability in the consumer environment," said Dr. Claudia Okeke, an associate director at the U.S. Pharmacopeia in Rockville, Md."

Read the whole article here.

I have heard about dollar stores selling toothpaste that is expired or manufactured in other countries, but that is a different topic altogether. Read snopes story.


Blogger Random-witticism said...

Well, I don't know, the credit program for expired medications would be a big point if they get full cost back, but if it's something like 30% or somesuch of what they paid, then that would still be BS. And what about the typical medicine cabinet type stuff, like aspirin, tylenol, or ibuprofen? Those bottles sit in a drawer or purse for months but they don't seem to be any less effective. I suppose there would be a plecebo effect there, but still it isn't like over- the-counter medications have big red warnings about expiration dates on them.

Friday, April 07, 2006 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Dar said...

I work in the pharmaceutical industry, quality assurance for sterile injectables. I don't know much about cosmetics, but as far as drugs go, I would never put an expired medicine into my body, given what I've learned at work.

Every pharmaceutical company has a Stability team. These teams consist of scientists who test the shelf life of various drugs and cosmetic products. This monitoring process is done to see how active ingredients stand up over time in various temperatures. Some medicines, especially antibiotics and cold medicines, actually become lethal after expiration. They can become lethal if they are also stored improperly (i.e., not according to directions supplied by the manufacturer).

Please do not take anything that has expired!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 2:31:00 PM  

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