Let’s get to it right. Your medicine cabinets just look like mine. When you have none equal to the justification that you have extra medicines. You might also have a few meds in your home that don’t apply to anyone. There are two reasons for having “too much” OTC medicine.
OTC – Over the Counter
- If my family needs relief or medical aid in a time when the shelves have gone bare and the doctors have gone to New Zealand I want to be prepared
- When loved ones are sick, there is little they won’t part with to get that medicine. It’s one of the most powerful bartering tools available.
Because your stockpile will most likely expire, let’s explore the full story on expired medications.
In fact, good health is well worth an expiring medicine cabinet. Still, you want to be able to use these drugs and like anything else in your store, you should be aware of whether or not these medications are safe to use. Let’s take the guesswork out of the drugs.
The FDA Ruling is 30+ Years Old
Starting in 1979, the FDA introduced expiration dates for drugs. Those deadlines were put on for public protection but I would say as well, for turnover as for most expiry dates. You see when food or goods “expire” you get to throw them out and go through new ones, meaning $$$ for those products’ manufacturers. It’s a bit of a diabolical but who can argue it in the name of public health, right?
The expiry dates are also useful in litigation. You see, every day going into business is more riskier. America’s tapeworm is the advocate of pain and they are eager to destroy medicine and its effects. Those lawyers have pushed the health care market through the roof. Expiration dates provide insurance for the drug companies if drugs are taken after that date and something goes wrong.
So, what does, something goes wrong, mean?
With Most Medications, It’s A Matter Of Potency Not Poison
This is the concern with the OTC and prescription drugs. As they age, they suffer a lack of potency. Whether you need a comparison, we see the same effect in vitamins. Many of those vintage, on sale vitamins are nothing more than cellulose. A similar impact happens at home with your meds.
So where is the danger?
Compensating for the diminished power presents risks of its own, says Jennifer Adams, PharmD, EdD, an APhA spokeswoman and the senior director of strategic institutional partnerships at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. When an expired drug is now still effective at 90%, some patients may just believe that taking two pills instead of one is safe or three instead of two, she says. “In terms of how much you’re going to get, you’re not really sure, so you could actually get too much … that’s when it can be really risky.”
Potency is also extremely relevant when you are thinking about medications that save lives. Drugs that reduce blood pressure, stop heart attacks, help with diabetes or asthma, to name a few. If the effectiveness of these medications decreases, and you rely on them to save your life, well, you’re going to die or overdose to make up for it.
Understanding the Governments Position
While cursing the government for their “over-regulation” is simple, they have the duty to look out for 300 million people. They are charged with making decisions that will protect the lot of us, even those that aren’t too intelligent, while also giving us the freedom that we want. This is no simple mission.
Without government regulation, there would be no food on earth and even more people would die. It may seem over-killing and the expiration decree contains some treachery but it protects citizens and businesses.
SLEP/ SHELF LIFE EXTENSION PROGRAM
SLEP was a US military study performed by the FDA. It found that the majority of meds stored under exceptional conditions will last for up to 5 1⁄2 years after the expiry date. The research was performed on medications and OTC drugs. This found common medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, allergy medicines and even different prescriptions such as opioids retain 90% of potency over the study period.
This ensures that most pharmaceutical items last past their expiry date.
Still, the storage conditions were extreme for the FDA. Over the 5 years, specially cooled facilities have been used to store the meds. For me, it would make sense to push them into the fridge as medicines begin to age, as this is your best version of a cool dry spot.
Not all meds hold up past the expiration:
EpiPen: This is a one-shot deal that could mean life or death. If you have no other option, of course, it will help but you put yourself or your family at serious risk using a less effective/expired EpiPen.
Aspirin: Normal aspirin and aspirin containing medicines lost their potency quickly and became ineffective shortly after expiration.
Amphetamines: The same was true of Amphetamines and meds containing them.
Antibiotics: Using degenerated antibiotics will only strengthen the bacteria you are fighting. Therefore, you must run the full course. Do not take expired antibiotics.
Life and Death Prescriptions: Never play around with expiration dates on meds that must work efficiently to save your life. Like the EpiPen there is no margin for error.
- The government has determined expiration dates to both keep us safe from making bad decisions and to help manufactures and retailers on turnover.
- Most meds will be fine past the best buy date. Store your meds in a cool dry place and if they get close to aging out move them to the fridge.
- If you have the means just replace them.
- Some meds will not hold up over time.
- Do not risk using expired, lifesaving medications.