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Are drug expiration dates important?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2019 | Defective Drugs |

When faced with an expired drug, many people wonder whether it’s necessary to discard the medication. After all, medicine can be expensive and you might not use all of it before it reaches its date of expiration. In this case, Harvard Health Publishing offers the following information on drug expirations and what they mean to consumers. 

Expiration dates on medication is a relatively new phenomenon. A law was implemented in 1979 that obligated drug manufacturers to place expiration dates on medication for the benefit of consumers. However, a study conducted on behalf of the military looked at how relevant these expiration dates actually are. This was a particular concern for the military, as they hold large stockpiles of medication that often expires before it can be used. 

The research found that 90% of the drugs studied were fine to use as long as 15 years after the stated expiration date. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter drugs and covered more than 100 medications. Of course, things like insulin and nitroglycerin should be discarded after their expiration date, as they may not be as effective as they were prior. Tetracycline may also be hazardous to take after the expiration date, although medical professionals continue to debate whether this is the case. 

Efficacy is the primary concern when it comes to expired medication. Even if expired medicine doesn’t cause a health issue, it might not be as effective as it once was. As a result, it’s recommended that you discard any expired medication and seek out a replacement from your doctor. You can also consult your local pharmacy, which will be able to provide more detailed insight into a specific medication.