Most of us have expired medication, which is usually, found in a bathroom or kitchen cabinet. No difference, between the over-the-counter or prescribed medication. Including aspirin or cold medicine. We keep these medications, since we only use it when we get sick or when it was prescribed. Since 1979, the Food and Drug Administration has required pharmaceutical companies, to have expiration dates printed on the labels. Drugs sold in the United States have between 12 to 60 months expiration, from the time a drug is manufactured. Hopefully, consumers will first check the expiration on the container or bottle, before using the medication. Taking medicine, after the expiration date, will not have the same potency, totally be ineffective or will cause more harm then good. Especially, if the medication is used for critical patients, the effect of the medication will not improve their health. Medicine that looks discolored or appears different from the time purchased should be discarded. Also, if medication is stored away within area of high heat or excessive moisture can cause medication to expire sooner. Especially, medications kept in bathroom cabinets, where heat and moisture are more prevalent. Consider all medication that don’t have an expired date, harmful to use, and should be discarded. Also, general rule to follow to ensure safety, any medication that is one year or older should be discarded. Safest way to discard expired medication is to wrap in tightly sealed or childproof container, and discard into the garbage or trash. Most people will unfortunately flush the medication down a toilet, which can potentially contaminate groundwater or drinking water supply.
A study conducted by office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer found that dozen of retail stores in New York State, where selling expired over-the-counter medications. These expired medications where found often in convenience stores, discount stores, small groceries, supermarkets and pharmacies. New York State General Business Law prohibits the sale of over-the-counter medications after the expiration date. Unfortunately, many states do not regulate expired over-the-counter medications, and nation wide there is no regulation, on the sale of expired medication.
Very likely discount or dollar stores, will sell expired medications. These stores purchase these medications at a discount. However, the consumer believes they are getting a bargain whenever purchasing these products, not realizing the potential danger of expired medication or the unfortunate lack of potency of the medication. An unfortunate situation could happen, when a woman purchases an expired contraceptive, and then gets an unexpected surprise, by the false sense of security. The situation could be equally worse, if there was no expiration label.
A contrary point of view, from the American Medical Association has tried to get the Pharmaceutical Industry to study the effects of drugs that are still safe to be used, beyond the expiration date. The United States Government has conducted their own tests that have shown, certain drugs stay potent for years longer, then the expiration date. The Government tests where started in 1987, and conducted by the Food and Drug Administration. The name of these tests referred to SLEP (Shelf Life Extension Program), and designed to test drugs, the military held beyond the expiration date. These tests revealed, from 119 drugs tested, only four where not potent to be used beyond the expiration date. Some of these drugs, stayed reliable to use, as long as ten years, from the expiration date. The United States Food Drug Administration for the Department of Defense, has saved millions of dollars, for the military by not replacing expired drugs, and keeping medication beyond the expiration date, based on those test results. Keeping a drug beyond the expiration date is dependent on the climate, and humidity of storage, that could affect the potency of the medication.