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What Happens When You Take Expired Medicines?

In 1979, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring an expiration date on prescription and over-the counter medicines. -The medicine expiration date is a critical part of deciding if the product is safe to use and will work as intended,- says Ilisa Bernstein, Pharm.D., J.D., Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance in FDAs Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

What Happens When You Take Expired Medicines?

Expired medical products can be less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition

Every medicine comes with its shelf life. People have a tendency to keep and use medicines beyond their expiry dates. Do you do the same? It is not a very good practice as consuming expired drugs can adversely affect your health.This article throws light on the impact of using expired medicines and factors you should consider before using any. Usually the date of any drug expiration is from 2 to 5 years from its production date. FDA regulations don't need drug manufacturers to regulate the long term stability and potency of any drug after its expiry. For instance, if it has been mentioned that a certain medicine has a 4 year expiration date, in that case there won't be any test beyond that.

Following are some points to keep in mind regarding expiration of a medicine:

1. Efficacy and potency

Right from the time when a medicine is produced, the potency starts decreasing. The expiration date signifies that the potency would last till the 'mentioned' date. In some cases, under good storage and optimal circumstances, the potency is retained even after the expiry date.


2. Toxicity and safety

As per experts, there is no guarantee that any medicine post its expiry date is safe. After the expiry date, the chemical composition changes and it may affect the human body. There are chances of bacterial growth in medicines that may severely affect people. Also, it is important to check how the medicines have been stored.

Should you use an expired medication?

Every time, you stumble upon an expired medicine, keep in mind these following factors:

1. Dosage formulation

Always check the formulation of your dosage. Medicines like syrups and solutions are not stable as compared to the solid ones like tablets and capsules. Medications like suspensions are susceptible to get frozen. Other medications like injectables tend to get discoloured. You should avoid using them.

2. Packaging

Check the container closure system of the medicine. If it has been haphazardly maintained then try avoiding it. Often, people do not take complete care of their medicines and as a result, they lose their quality. If the bottle of your medicine is dirty, its cap has been broken, then avoid the medicine.

3. Storage conditions

There are a lot of factors that determine drug stability. Some of the factors that negatively affect this are oxygen, extreme temperatures, moisture, and light (especially sunlight).

4. Length of time

Always check the time between the initial manufacture and its final use. If there is a significant time difference from the initiation then check with your doctor for consumption.

5. Appearance of medication

If you find that the tablets are brittle or they are breaking apart on their own then avoid using them. Check if the tablets or capsules have lost their sheen, they have become soft or they have developed a strong odor. If the suspensions and emulsions stay separate even after shaking well then avoid them. Do not take any medicine that looks suspicious.

Always check your dependency on a medicine. It is advisable to see a doctor to get a consult on the right medication. Your health is in your hands; don't let any expired medicine to ruin it.

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