Instructables

Expiration date of meds?


Finding a beautiful small oak cabinet, with beveled windows, full with a first aid box, some more first aid stuff, and several antibiotics etc.
The first aid stuff is fine! The band aids still stick, etc.

The antibiotics, and the fungicide expired during the millennium scare....

But then, people store meds in very different circumstances. The warnings are of course based on legal possibilities, like storage in a leaking cabinet on the south section of the mobile home in South Florida of a hyper allergenic patient..., generally not met in most circumstances!

Of course many folks will say: DON'T USE IT!! VERY DANGEROUS, ETC....

But I'm sceptical...  Of course big pharma would love me to take it to hazardous waste tomorrow.

OK, I don't need these meds.  But suppose someone very poor, like many of my friends in 3rd world countries, got a bad cut, etc. Over there, you have to pay upfront to see a doc, and pay again to get (very common) antibiotics. They phone me.

My question: generally speaking, what is the value of expired meds... Would there be a danger, would significant toxic by products be generated, or is the issue mostly a gradual breakdown of the active compound...

Which would mean, double dose...

Almost everyone has unused meds in their cabinet. This question is very important and the proper answers could result in saving many lives!


BobS (author) 4 years ago
Anyway, it was a great idea, but after putting the small cabinet with all the meds in my greenhouse (for seed storage), and forgetting about it for 2 months, I decided to discard them (it gets up to 45 degrees C in there during sunny days). Cheap generic meds for the 3rd world are probably a better solution. However, one still could ask the question what's worse: a 10 Y old bottle of pills from grandma, or an almost expired bottle kept in a trunk in a Sahara country...
Gottwinkies4 years ago
Having a daughter that is a chemical engineer, we have talked about this. Basically, what it boils down to is that there is no safe and effective way to determine if those would be safe or harmful, short of testing every package. Each coating, each medication has different compounds that will interact in different ways over time. Heat, humidity, exposure to other things could affect them in different ways. I had asked her about expired allergy tabs and that was how we got onto this topic. It just simply is not worth the risk in my book, because you would have to ask yourself; are the potential side effects from an expired medicine greater than the benefit of the medication?
Re-design4 years ago
Unless you have the facilities to test them, you have no idea which part of the compounds have change and which way they have moved.  Just because they're old doesn't mean they have lost strength.  They might actually get stronger, and since many medicines are poisonous in large amounts how do you know that double the dose is right?

Some medicines even over the counter are time release.  These are usually wax based that breakdown over 12 hours in the stomach.  How do you know that that 10 year past date wax is going to release in a controlled manner or all at once or even at ALL.

If it's got a date on the package I think it's better to discard that which has passed and replace with newer material.

That which has no date I assume could be used for as long as it's clean.