Sunday, June 15, 2008

Checking expiry dates - on medications

Do you check for expiry dates on medications? I don't when I'm buying them; I may at home if they've been in the cupboard for a while.

There's only one non-food product that I am very careful about checking, and that is sunscreen. I've seen the results of using sunscreen that is well beyond the "best before" date and it's not pretty. But, I never thought to check for medications. Maybe we all should start though.

In New York City, investigators found over 600 items from two chains, CVS and Rite Aid that were expired, and many of those medications were for children. As they emphasize in this article (Officials Find Expired Items at Drugstores in New York) though, taking expired medications isn't usually harmful, but you may be paying for something that won't work properly.

Today at Help My Hurt:

Back pain in children, especially under 4 years old

Too good to be true? "Half new patients with RA become pain free within 36 weeks"

Tonabersat, new migraine drug being studied

How many joints can a person have replaced?

Helmetless motorcycle riders = organ donors?

Today at Womb Within:

2 exercises for sciatica pain during pregnancy

Finding and Choosing a Doula

What is a birth plan?

If you’re obese, your pregnancy may be more expensive

Can epidurals affect breast feeding?

News for Today:

Women Get Lung Cancer From Smoking at Same Rates as Men (HealthDay)

Working Overtime Linked to Anxiety and Depression

Rheumatoid arthritis doubles heart risk: experts

Should we screen women over 70 for breast cancer? (Just don't mention "rationing")

Women, Latinos face higher brain aneurysm risk

Oily fish can protect against RA, but smoking and psychosocial stress increase its risk

1 patient's account of becoming a live kidney donor

1 in 10 adults has a non-earlobe piercing


Anonymous said...

Wow, funny you should mention this! I just bought my daughter some allergy meds and she told me they'd already expired. When she took them back to the store to exchange them, many other bottles on the shelves had also expired.

Clare2e said...

Actually, this is one thing I do! perhaps because I used to work in the pharmaceuticals/diagnostic industry in the lab, and one of the FDA auditable criteria was the freshness of the testing materials. 7 years of habit, and now I check everything automatically, from dog biscuits to canned beans. And I can testify that-- shocking as it is-- many items I flip over from drugstore and even grocery shelves (which tend to get monitored more often) are EXPIRED.

From my many other jobs, I also know that the dreaded "inventory" comes to retail at least twice yearly when these details ought to be checked at bare minimum. So, I should never find items more than 6 months out of date, right? Wrong!
Even at the big volume chains with their increased visibility and liability, this tends to be an area that's inconsistent at best, if my own experience is common.

Some OTC medications are assigned expirations because they're required to have one, and there's an upper limit which I forget on how long that can be, even if it doesn't really apply. Absent container degradation and severe temperature stress, some products are extremely shelf-stable, as long-lived as the proverbial Twinkie. But for others, the date is critical, the result of expiration not simply being a loss of efficacy, but a constitutional, chemical change to the product that can actually make you ill or worsen the condition you're trying to treat.

Who put a nickel in me? Wait, you did, Marijke! And can you tell I care about this issue? If you do a quick look over your produce and bread for freshness, by all means try to do it on anything else contacting your body internally or topically.

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Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

@old wife - I guess I'll be checking more carefully from now on, thsnks for letting me know.

@clar2e - wow - if a nickel does that to you, what will you do if I give you a quarter? :-) Great info, thanks!

@Sandy, I'll be in touch.