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How dangerous are overdue medications?

 
31 August 2017, 09:00

Information about the final date of use of medicines always means one thing: if the drug is overdue, then it must be discarded. But the American specialists drew attention to the fact that many of the overdue medicines continue to operate even after the expiration date.

Duration of storage of medicines may be 2-5 years from the date of manufacture. However, pharmacists do not conduct studies on the efficacy of drugs that have expired 10, 15 or even forty years ago, since they consider this impractical.

That is, if the pharmaceutical company has confirmed the action and safety of the medication for three years from the date of release, it is enough to write this deadline in the instruction - and the documents for the drug will be ready. However - what will happen to the medication after the stated three years?

The experiment, described in Jama Internal Medicine, proved: eight drugs, which included fifteen different active ingredients, remained effective for several decades after they had expired.

Such an experiment was conducted under the auspices of the US government campaign to continue the term of drug storage. The goal of such a campaign is to ensure the maximum possible storage of medicines for military and civil needs in case of martial law.

Studies in the laboratory confirmed: more than 90% of medicines do not lose their properties even 15 years after the end of the storage term.

Could this mean that the medication should not be thrown away, even if the expiration date has expired?

If everything was so simple. There are quite a lot of factors affecting the quality of medicines: these are the conditions in which the medicine is stored, the ambient temperature and humidity indicators, the degree of penetration of solar radiation, etc.

It is unlikely that the bulk of consumers will keep medicines in such conditions that are provided in the warehouses of the American army. With this in mind, and not only that, the US Food and Drug Administration monitors ordinary consumers and insists that under no circumstances should overdue medications be used - the degree of risk is too unreasonably high.

Especially cautious it is necessary to be with such powerful medicinal preparations, as hormonal and antibacterial agents, insulin-containing preparations, nitroglycerin.

In order to keep the drugs effective and safe, you need to store them in the places recommended for storage in the instructions for the specific drug. It is important to regularly check the contents of the household and car first-aid kit, check the terms of the validity of all available medications. It is not recommended to store medications in the kitchen and in the bathroom - sometimes it is too hot and / or humid.

If the medicine is recommended to be stored in a refrigerator, then a separate closing shelf or compartment should be allocated: the medicines should not come into contact with food, and potentially should not fall into the hands of children.

Last update: 20.12.2018
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Medical expert editor

Portnov Alexey Alexandrovich

Education: Kiev National Medical University. A.A. Bogomolets, Specialty - "General Medicine"

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