Expired Medication: The Facts

Expired Medication: The Facts

Having pills that were existing when Johnny Carson last signed off is not good, and you should know the truth regarding them and how to dispose of them safely.

While ignoring expiration dates on food may cause an upset stomach for a few days, ignoring medication expiration dates can be more complicated and have far greater consequences not just for you, but for the human race. Here are answers to questions you may have had regarding expired medication.

1. Are antibiotics good after a few years, or will they make me sick?
They probably won’t make you sick, but they will not have the potency to fight off infection, which can have severe consequences. Over time, antibiotics can lose more than 50 percent of their potency, which means it’s not going to kill all the bacteria you may think you have and leave the strongest drug-resisting bacteria in your system. So, if you ever get another infection you’re going to need stronger and probably pricier antibiotics.
Additionally, by taking antibiotics unnecessarily and creating drug-resistant bacteria, you are helping the bugs become stronger than even our best antibiotics. Which is a real and terrifying problem that’s facing the world today.

2. Is the “use-by” date the same as its expiration date?
No. Expiration dates are legally required to be on the original container the pharmacist receives for giving out the drugs. The “use-by”, “do not use after” date is given to patients after the drugs are no longer being stored at the pharmacy due to safety medical reasons.

3. How does one dispose of expired medication?
Your initial instinct may be to flush them: out of sight, out of mind. Right? That is not the case. By introducing these antibiotics to drinking water, you are contaminating the water supply. And when it comes to narcotics, more than half of those abusing them acquire them from a family member or friend—typically without their knowledge. The D.E.A. coordinates nationwide drug “take-back” days to properly dispose of medication.

Expired drugs can have an even bigger impact on the human species than realized. Knowing when to take antibiotics is only half the battle, because there are currently infections which cannot be treated with antibiotics anymore due to the artificial creation of drug-resistant bacteria. For all of your Medicare needs to ensure you have the health insurance that includes drug coverage, contact SeniorChoices NW in Wilsonville, Oregon.

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