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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Expired Prescriptions--Are They Safe To Take?

Expiration dates on bottles of prescription drugs are there for a purpose. By law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1979 began requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to put expiration dates on prescription drugs. The expiration date refers to the date on which the manufacturer will guarantee the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

So, do drugs need to be discarded after the expiration date? According to an FDA study, 90% of more than 100 drugs tested, including prescription and over-the-counter, were safe to use even 15 years after the expiration date. But, in spite of these test results, the FDA is advising that people discontinue taking medications that are expired. It is simply not a safe practice, especially with nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics.

What can happen to most drugs over time is that they begin to lose their potency, especially if they have not been kept in a cool, dry place. Most drugs will remain more effective if they are stored in the refrigerator. According to the director of the California Poison Control System in San Diego, there has only been one isolated case where an expired drug became toxic. But the FDA warns that using expired prescriptions is risky and can be harmful to your health.

Another reason for getting rid of old prescriptions is the fact that medicines are often improved with further research. Taking current prescriptions will ensure you are getting the best medical care. In addition, as drugs get older they lose their effectiveness, resulting in the patient receiving a medicine that is not going to have the intended results, and this could affect their health in a negative way.

So, before you decide to keep all those expired drugs and continue to use them to save money, consider the potential risks and check first with the pharmacist.

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