|Expiration dates on medicine also called discard after date.|
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started requiring expiration dates on medicine sold by prescription and over the counter. Expiration dates can be found on the prescription label, the bottle, or box of the medication. The FDA contends that medication expiration dates help in determining a medication's effectiveness and safety after expiration. Expired medication can lose its effectiveness and in some cases can even pose a threat to one's health. Tetracyclin for example is an antibiotic that can cause serious kidney damage if taken after expiration date.
Most expiration dates range from one to five years. However, in some states, pharmacies are required to give a prescription a one year expiration date once they have re-bottled and dispensed it. Berkeley University advises that under ideal conditions, many medications remain stable long after their expiration dates. However, most people do not keep their medications in these conditions. Once the bottle is opened, a medication begins to break down. Exposure to sunlight, extreme temperatures or moisture affect the stability of medications.
Are All Expiration Dates Equal?
Berkeley University lists the following medicines that break down quickly and should not be used past the expiration date.
- Liquid antibiotics
- Liquids requiring refrigeration
- Cold remedies
- Topical ointments and creams
- Pain relievers
- Sleeping aids
|Expiration dates on over the counter drugs.|
Medicine Storage Do's & Don'ts
- Do store in a cool, dry, dark place away from heat and moisture.
- Do refrigerate when indicated.
- Do not store in a bathroom medicine cabinet.
- Do not store in your car.
Even if there does not seem to be a threat due to an expiration date, consider these reasons for properly discarding unused medications. Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center advises:
- Abuse - Prescription pain killers are often abused, especially by teenagers.
- Accidental dose or overdose - Children and the elderly can take medications by accident. Taking a medication that is not prescribed can be dangerous even in a small dosage.
- Pets - Like children and elderly parents can get into medications, too.
- Poisoning - Medication poisoning is a leading cause of death from poisoning.
For some medications, we might have to keep some on hand. For most we do not have to. Don't make your job harder. Discard expired medication and avoid medication dangers as much as possible.
As rising costs continue to influence how long we hold onto prescription and over the counter medications, expiration dates will factor into our decision to keep or discard those old bottles. If you are cost conscious, as most of us are, remember that the FamilyWize prescription discount drug card is free and can be used at over 61,000 participating pharmacies. Save up to 75% off the cost of prescription drugs.
If you do have expired medication, come September is the DEA National Take Back Initiative. This initiative allows you to return expired medicines so that they are properly disposed of. We will be posting a blog in September as a reminder and give you more information about where you can go. In the meantime, check with your pharmacy or FDA.gov for proper disposal directions of over-the-counter and prescription medications.