By Adem Lewis /


We’ve all been there. Stuck with aches,
pains, and runny nose, and the cough medicine in the cabinet is five years old. The question
is, do you take it and risk it? Or toss it and suffer? Hey pill poppers Julia here for DNews We’ve talked on DNews before about food
expirations dates or ‘sell by’ dates as they’re sometimes called. And we’ve found
well.. their less actual rules and more like guidelines. Most food lasts well beyond that
date. Others, well you have do a quick sniff test. But have you ever noticed that medication
has an exp date too? Rachael Lee asked us, Can you get sicker from expired medicine? The FDA started slapping an expiration date
on medicines in 1979. So it’s been over 30 years since that decision, has it made
a difference? Typically the expiration date is set a year
to five years beyond the date of manufacture. It’s less of an expiration date and more
of a date of guaranteed potency. Basically after that date, manufacturers can’t guarantee
the drug will be 100% potent, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be unsafe or less
effective. But there’s some evidence that some medicines
can hold their potency for quite awhile especially in controlled conditions. A study conducted by the FDA on behalf of
the Military found ways to extend the life of medicines in storage in a program called
SLEP or shelf life extension program. They found that they could extend the life of 88%
of the drugs in govt facilities by at least a year by simply keeping them in climate controlled
storage. Most drugs lasted on average five and half years past the expiration date. While civilians like you and I might not have
access to tightly controlled storage facilities, there’s always the fridge. Which some experts
recommend a cool, dry, place, for extending the life of your medication. But maybe drugs last longer than five years
even without chilin the fed’s fridge. One study published in the journal Archives of
Internal Medicine found that some medicines can hold their own for DECADES. They were
all 28-40 years past their due date. [[ gel vs pill ]] [[ specific examples ]] They only looked at a handful of medicines,
8 different medications like with 15 different compounds between them like caffeine, aspirin,
or hydrocodone. They found that most, 12 of those compounds remained in amounts of at
least 90% decades after their expiration date. And that 90% is crucial, that’s how much
of the good stuff a drug needs to be considered “effective” by the FDA. So most of the
decades old medicine didn’t lose it’s potency. Although two medicines, aspirin and
amphetamine, seem to lose some of their juice after all that time. They were present in
amounts less than 90%. But before you go poppin grandma’s pills,
which you shouldn’t take someone else pills anyways…. that’s illegal. But really the
FDA recommends listening to those expiration dates. They caution that drugs gone bad could
be “less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or decrease in potency.” FDA pharmacist, Ilisa Bernstein, straight
up says “If your medicine has expired, do not use it.” Especially with living saving
drugs like an epi-pen. If a drug’s expired, the FDA recommends tossing it. The best way
to dispose of a drug is usually on the bottle or some cities have prescription medicine
take back programs. So look into that if you’re worried about all the leftover medication
in your bathroom cabinet. So it seems drugs last longer than their “good
by” date, but at the end of the day I’d still listen to the FDA just to be on the
safe side. But it’s not just medicines that expire,
there’s lots of common things you didn’t know have an expiration date. Trace has the
whole list of things in your house that go bad, right here.


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