Last reviewed by Parth Dalal on August 28th, 2018.
What do you mean by expired drugs or antibiotics
The Date Of Expiration that is indicated by the manufacturer on the labeling package of the medicine which indicates that till that date the medicine is up to its full potential and manufacturer guarantees full safety and efficacy.
The expiration dates, is required by the law in united states, and it started beginning in the year of 1979. At coming near to the expiration date it does not mean that your drug has lost its potency and safety.
After the expiration date it does not mean your drug lost its potential but it has still about 90% of its original potential and is not no longer effective nor becomes more harmful.
In general, the expiration date published by the manufacturer in average is 2-5years from the manufactured date . The FDA allows the manufacturer not to determine for the long term extending from the date of expiry.
Potency and efficacy of the expired drugs or antibiotics
When the drug has been extracted from its original source and stored in a proper condition it manufacturer starts it use and is manufactured it starts loosing its potential. The expiration date does not indicate that the drug has lost its potential and its efficacy.But, its just an symbol of assurance that is provided by the manufacturer for its 100% potential and efficacy.
Although, after an ongoing research it was found that after the expiration date of the drug and still stored optimum conditions drug shows 90% potential and effectiveness after 5 years of passing the expiration date.
An program called SLEP (shelf life extension program) which was conducted for reducing the cost of medicine for the army. They experimented on about 122 different medicines and found that 88% from this 122 drugs when stored in proper conditions have an average of extension of 66 months and a maximum extension of 278 months.
Do expired antibiotics have safety
It is thought that expired drugs go toxic after their expiry date. But their is virtually no reports for toxicity from the outdated products. Howbeit, it is advisable not to consume the outdated medicines without prior studies obtained.
Medicines that should never be used after its expiry
Drugs that have narrow therapeutic index and little decrease in pharmacological activity may lead to serious consequences to the patients. Therefore, some of the medicines should not be taken after their expiry. They are:
- Warfarin – narrow therapeutic index.
- Birth control/oral contraceptives,.
- Nirtoglycerin – very quickly lose potency,
- Anticonvulsants – narrow therapeutic index,
- Procan SR – sustained release Procainamide,
- Thyroid preparations,
- Insulin – lose potency very quickly and stored in cold conditions,
- dilantin, phenobarbitol,
- eye drops – this are very sensitive to for any bacterial growth in solution once the preservative degrades.
What are the factors that negatively affect the medicines
Their is a long list of storage conditions for drugs depending on type of drug as well as different dosage forms. The major factor contributing are:
This factors should be strictly followed for proper preservation of the medicines. If you do not go through the storage conditions thoroughly medicine might start degrading before its actual date of expiry.
What factors should be considered before using an expired medicine
The five major factors that should be considered before using the expired medicines are:
- Type of formulation: Now a days drugs are manufactured in different formulations that may be tablet, liquid , aerosol,etc. So the stability of the formulation is important consideration more the unstable formulation more fast it degrades. Liquids are unstable in nature comparable to tablets.
- storage conditions: As listed above the storage conditions and if maintained the medicine remains stable else if it left open it starts degrading.
- The time duration between the initial time of manufacturing and the final use.
- Package type and container closure system: Medicine should be packaged in a proper manner let says for example, if medicine degrades by light it should be stored in an amber colored vial.
- Appearance of medication: to not take tablet if it breaking apart and brittle , do not use if the tablet have lose its shine, do not use tablet or capsule if it has become soft, emulsions and suspensions remains separate in spite of shaking again and again, inject able appear discolored or precipitates are formed. Let us take an easy example to make out weather aspirin is good to use or not , if aspirin is smell is changed so can make out more stronger the smell less the effectiveness and visa versa.
Is it suggested to use expired medicines or not
The law enforces to the drugs and its efficacy for the betterment of the society. So it your life depends on a outdated drug and it is your maintenance medicine so always take the drug with 100% potency. But if your life does not depend on the drug and problems are like headache, constipation, etc you can try it and see what happens next.
But their is a tagline ” Better safe then sorry”. Therefore if you have better options use products with full efficacy and 100% potential.
I took expired antibiotics. Should I be worried?
Yes, if the patients is not able to replace the expired medication with the new ones and the medicine is not life saving drugs or life threatening drugs and their is no evidences for its hazardous effects after the expiry you can take it. Also if the medication is used for the symptoms like cough, cold, sneezing, headache, hay fever, mild pain or any other normal symptoms.
No, if the patients is on some maintenance therapy and is an essential life saving drug then it is advised to dispose the expired medication properly and you should get new prescription. The conditions for which one should not use the expired medications are heart conditions , some serious infections, seizure, etc. one immediately see doctor and seek proper advice and get new prescription.
Some drugs that should never used after expiry are:
- birth control or oral contraceptives
- Thyroid preparations
- insulin, etc
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